The star quarterback is more than just a quarterback. He can be the reason his team wins a championship game and the reason an impact is made on a small-town. Eyes are always on him, on and off the field.
Professional and college athletes are seen as role models to many. Using their fame to benefit others is one of the many reasons they are looked up to.
Athletes such as Joe Burrow and Kristi Yamaguchi are prime examples of athletes that are going beyond just playing a sport.
Joe Burrow, Louisiana State University quarterback from Athens, Ohio has recently had a major impact on his hometown. During his Heisman speech he spoke of his hometown and its impoverished state.
After his speech aired on National television “back in Ohio, an Athens High and Ohio grad, Will Drabold, felt energized by the speech. He logged onto Facebook, created a fundraising page for the all-volunteer Athens County Food Pantry at 11:02 a.m., set a goal of $1,000, and left town that afternoon for Los Angeles on a business trip. Donations blew past that and before Drabold went to bed in California that night, he raised the goal to $50,000,” according to NBC Sports writer Peter King.
The donations have now exceeded $500,000. Burrow is a prime example of using his current fame to benefit his hometown instead of forgetting all about it and moving on with his new found fame from record breaking season which ended with a National Championship win.
Kristi Yamaguchi, Olympic champion and two time world champion figure skater also used her fame from her sport to create the Always Dream Foundation.
The Always Dream Foundation’s goal is to provide children in low-income families with high quality reading materials in Hawaii, Arizona and Yamaguchi’s home state of California.
“My Always Dream Foundation is now focused on building awareness around the importance of in-home reading and on empowering low-income families with the tools necessary to level the playing field. We do this by providing access to high-quality books in the home via 21st century technology, all while engaging parents to become active participants in their child’s everyday learning,” Yamaguchi said on the foundation’s website.
These athletes are just two of the many examples of those who use their success to benefit the lives of others. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
Professional athletes should be held at a high standard. Because social media is so prevalent in our world today, users have access to a person's every move. When an athlete makes a bad choice, such as getting into a fight or using illegal substances, it not only reflects poorly upon them, but it can also cause the youth who look up to that person to believe that those actions are OK.
Lance Armstrong is a prime example of an athlete who has made a positive impact with his fame, the LiveStrong foundation, but who has also ruined his role model status. Armstrong admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs in 2013. According to CNN “the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released more than 1,000 pages of evidence in doping allegations against Armstrong and his teammates. He was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles in the scandal. On Thursday, the International Olympic Committee demanded that he give back the bronze medal he won in 2000.”
Armstrong was then banned by the USADA and in recent years his former cycling team director along with the team doctor were also banned for life.
Along these same lines famous athletes hold a position where not only their actions but their words are also extremely powerful.
More athletes should be encouraged to use their words to promote positive ideas that they believe in. Since they have that power they should use it to the best of their ability, especially since they can make a huge impact on the youth and their beliefs.