I read pop-psychology books like most people read fiction and for one of the same reasons – to relax. Instead of reading fiction (too much like English Lit class), I mostly wait for the movie to come out. My latest book is Brene’ Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection. As I started reading this, I remembered that I still had her talks with Oprah from Super Soul Sunday on my DVR, so I watched them again.
What does this have to do with sports? Oprah and Brene’ discussed three things that all humans intrinsically desire. That is to be seen, heard and valued. Or put another way, “Do I matter and does what I say mean anything to you?” I think this relates to celebrities in general and professional athletes in particular. This conversation gave me a new perspective on our celebrity culture and also on why the fame of sports is so alluring and addictive.
Athletes learn that their value comes from what they do and not from who they are. When the fame ends, then what? Many know that they are not seen, heard or valued beyond their athletic prowess. Without the need for money, no wonder so many athletes play past their prime, risking injury. What happened to the athletes of yesteryear who stood for something – Muhammad Ali and his stance against the war; Billie Jean King and her stance for equal pay for women’s tennis; and Jim Brown and others for civil rights. These athletes were seen, heard, and valued beyond what they could do athletically.
Should our athletes be socially responsible? Should we hold them to a higher standard? That is, seen and heard beyond the world of sports? These questions have been asked time and time again and I tend to agree with Charles Barkley when he famously said that he was not a role model. The problem is that we can’t wait until fame and fortune arise. We should be imparting these values to our youngsters now, so that when fame and fortune do arise, they will simply keep doing and living as they always have done. They will just have a bigger platform and resources to do so. “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it” (NKJV, Proverbs 22:6).
Part of this rearing includes celebrating ordinary people who do extraordinary things that make a difference in this world. Let’s show our youngsters that they will be seen, heard and valued for what they do to enrich this world, not by the number of likes on Facebook.
This also relates to the workforce which I will cover in an upcoming post. Stay tuned :-).