This week, Peyton Manning was in the news for something other than throwing touchdowns or winning football games. In an open letter to the Broncos’ star QB in the Indianapolis Star, it was revealed that Peyton Manning responded to a letter from a fan with stage four cancer by requesting to meet her, flying her and her husband to last weekend’s game in Denver, providing them field passes and spending a few minutes with the couple during pre-game. An amazing gesture that provides an example of how influential athletes and celebrities can be in our culture when they decide they want to help make the world a better place.
Then, the next day, it was announced that P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens (one of the best and highest-paid players in the NHL) donated ten dollars to a local children’s hospital. Yes, you read that correctly. $10 MILLION. Sure, he will make $72 million over the span of his contract, but that’s an incredible contribution that will help make a difference in the lives of many, many children.
Other sports stories making headlines this week? Rutgers suspended their head football coach three games for NCAA rules violations. The UFC banned one of their top athletes for FIVE years after his third positive test for marijuana. One of the NHL’s biggest stars denied any wrongdoing in a sexual assault investigation. Soccer’s International governing body (FIFA) fired a high level executive after allegations of unethical behavior. And in a story that just won’t go away, the NFL filed papers to clear the way for an appeal in the already infamous “deflate-gate” scandal.
The point? Sports CAN provide feel-good stories from time to time. Athletes can and often do have a positive impact on their communities. In an era where it doesn’t always seem to be the case, not all the news needs to be negative…
In 1993, NBA star (turned announcer) Charles Barkley was featured in an ad that was at the time deemed to be very controversial in which he declared that he was not a role model. The commercial sparked a fierce debate as to whether athletes and celebrities should be perceived as individuals that children should look up to…that debate has never quite been settled. However, in today’s day and age, with an increase in player salaries, influx of new social media channels and explosive growth in the number of media outlets, athletes are under the microscope now more than ever.
So, ask your students in class: Â Should athletes and celebrities should be considered role models?