James KimMrs. GribbinResearch Paper9 January 2018Sweet Elite Athletes:Why Professional Athletes are Great Role Models “I’m the one person who wears the words ‘hustle, loyalty, respect’ on my T-shirts and merchandise. My audience is children. It’s very flattering to see a kid wear your T-shirt: it’s even more flattering to have a dad come up to you and say, ‘I watch you with my kid. Keep doing what you’re doing. You’re a role model for my son’ (Cena)” – John Cena, a professional wrestler in the WWE. For countless years, sports have been a source of entertainment for millions of people, including children. Whether they are scoring touchdowns on the field or aiding the local children’s hospital, many professional players are inspiring others in a positive way. Fans see the great things their favorite athletes are accomplishing and they apply it to their own lives. As a result, professional athletes exemplify characteristics of role models through their character, altruism, and responsibility. In many people’s lives, professional sports and athletes are a major source of affection, entertainment, and inspiration. First, statistics show that children look up to these competitors: 92% of children say that famous athletes rank second as the people they admire the most; parents are first. 72% of children say that professional sports players are on par with teachers as the people they admire the most. 73% of “both boys and girls name professional or Olympic athletes as among the people they say they ‘look up to or want to be like'” (National Survey of Kids). Lastly, 10 to 17 year olds name professional athletes more often than other celebrities as other figures. These facts show that kids acknowledge the presence of professional athletes and see them as very important people. Secondly, the majority of children regularly follow sports and their favorite teams/players. According to the “National Survey of Kids”, 21% of kids are “sports junkies” meaning that they are “heavy consumers of sports information.” This proves that many kids are constantly exposed to the sports world, meaning that their lives are influenced largely by their interest in athletics. Lastly, children claim that they are positively influenced by sports players: 75% of kids think that athletes teach “being a good sport and playing fair are also important as winning” (National Survey of Kids). 96% of kids learn from athletes “that excelling in sports takes hard work and dedication” (National Survey of Kids). 54% of kids have been encouraged to “work harder at their own sport” and 93% of kids say that “famous athletes inspire kids to follow their dreams” (National Survey of Kids). As a result, children strive and achieve goals that may have not been possible without the help of professional athletes (National Survey of Kids). As athletics are a big part in many kids’ lives, they can be influenced by the great character sportsmen and sportswomen display on and off the field. First, many professional athletes have incredible work ethic, allowing them to stay on top of their game and become the best they can be. One person who exemplifies this is Kobe Bryant, one of the hardest workers in the history of the NBA. It all started in his youth when he would wake up everyday at 5 am while before school to practice. He carried this over to his professional career. While injured, he was still the first person on the court at practice. When he was playing in the Olympics, he would finish his workouts before his teammates even wake up. Furthermore he would train 4 hours a day during the season, and during the offseason he would use the ‘666’ workout regimen which consisted of working out 6 hours a day, 6 days a week, for 6 months (Cartelli). As stated by Lance Cartelli in his article “Kobe Bryant’s insane work ethic”, Bryant once said that, “You’re going to have to feel some pain, you’re going to have to feel like your lungs are burning, and you know, you want to spit up blood, that sort of thing”. Secondly, masterful athletes teach life lessons to others. One thing they teach is to create goals and work to execute them. As stated by Cohen, “The highest achievers have the clearest and most concise goals and timetables.” Another lesson is the act of taking responsibility. “When you take your life into your own hands and accept responsibility for the good and the bad, you can achieve great things” (Cohen). Thirdly, professionals emphasize the importance of courage; one will never succeed unless he/she first attempts to try. Lastly, athletes teach that teammates are a source of major support. Matthew Uohara, the president of Hale Inu Strength and Conditioning in Los Angeles said, “Every athlete I had in this offseason preferred to work in a group setting” (Cohen). Professional athletes’ great character positively influences the youth through work ethic and life lessons. In addition to displaying magnificent character, athletes show compassion by giving to those in need. First, many professional athletes have their own foundation to raise money for countless causes. John Wall, a professional basketball player, has donated over $1 million to the urban community through his charity. Tim Tebow, a talented athlete who has devoted his life to helping others, has gone on countless missionaries to Africa and has helped many children through the Tim Tebow Ffoundation. Similarly, Los Angeles Dodger pitcher Clayton Kershaw, one of the highest paid players in Major League Baseball, has used his money to help fund Kershaw’s Challenge. This charity provides supplies and support to the African orphanage that he and his wife built in 2011. Lastly, the Tim Duncan Foundations has raised thousands of dollars to support diseases and encourage healthy habits. Hundreds of other charities funded by professional athletes exist, showing that the millions of dollars earned by the hard-workers are put to good use. Secondly, many athletes directly give to their community and to those in need. For example, Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the best soccer players in the world, has built schools in Gaza, helped repair damages from earthquakes, and paid for sick patients’ operations. In addition, the renowned wrestler John Cena has made over 400 Make-A-Wish appearances for sick children. Furthermore, as stated by Kraft, “Everytime he is on television, he plays the role of a superhero for children, teaching them to stand up for their beliefs, and to never give up.” Another athlete who substantially cares for children is Russell Wilson, a devout Christian. He has visited a local children’s hospital every Tuesday since joining the NFL, displaying that he has regularly cared for others. Furthermore, football player Peyton Manning has also supported children by donating over $6.5 million to youth at risk. As a matter of fact, a children’s hospital in Indianapolis was named after him because of his deeds (Kraft). This year, JJ Watt, a football player for the Houston Texans, has raised $37 million for Hurricane Harvey Relief . In strong support for his team’s home city, he stated, “Houston will bounce back from this and will rise up stronger than ever” (“JJ Watt”). Because of today’s issues all around the world, professional athletes have taken empathetic action to help those in desperate need. In addition to displaying compassion, accomplished athletes prove that their work requires great responsibility. First, in order to stay in shape, athletes need to constantly work their bodies to stay on top of their game. A great example was shown when participating athletes were preparing for the 2012 London Olympics. Each Oolympian toiled through vigorous activities to reach their full potential. Statistics show that the average athlete trained 6 hours a day, 6 days a week, for 12 months a year, consumed more than 1.1 million calories per year, and worked towards their Olympic goal for 11 years. In addition, in one month during strict gym workouts, the average male canoeist lifted the total amount of weight equivalent to six blue whales. Furthermore, the swimmers involved in the Olympics swam more than 1,860 miles in one year to get ready (Elite Athletes). These numbers prove that the life of a professional sports player involves consistent training to keep the body in shape. Similarly, the mental aspect of athletics is important as well. In order to become a great athlete, professionals had to get their work done in the classroom. Many athletes excelled academically, helping them earn interests from collegiate programs and earning a degree to potentially work in a different profession in the future. For instance, Ryan Fitzpatrick, an NFL quarterback, is nicknamed the “Harvard Man” because of his intelligence; he earned an economics major at Cambridge after scoring a 1580 on the SATs. Bill Bradley, a former NBA player, was known for his athletic and political achievements. He graduated magna cum laude at Princeton and got a Rhodes Scholarship at the University of Oxford and then played for the New York Knicks for 12 years. He eventually served a three-term stint as a US Senator from New Jersey while almost becoming president when he ran for the Democratic Primary in 2000. Finally, Paul Gasol, currently a center for the San Antonio Spurs, excelled in medical school at the University of Barcelona. On another note, he is self-taught in speaking Italian and French and also speaks English, Spanish, and Catalan (Israeli). These few players exemplify that athletes do not only complete physical work, but are also able to complete mental tasks as well, widening their responsibilities. Because of the numerous duties required to become a successful player in the athletic profession, children learn that effort is required in all sorts of fields. Through their character, altruism, and responsibility, professional athletes serve as extraordinary role models. “Dedicated”, “caring”, and “talented” are just a few words that characterize the life of the thousands of athletes in the sports industry. Through athletes’ actions on and off the field, children learn valuable life lessons that they apply to their own lives. They work harder in the classroom, study more, help friends who need help, and value the people who support them. Consequently, the world is filled with a bit more generosity, determination, and affection, thanks to the men and women who display their athletic talents in front of the world. Works CitedCartelli, Lance. “Kobe Bryant’s Insane Work Ethic.” Cbssports.com, CBS Sports, 12 Dec. 2015, www.cbssports.com/nba/photos/kobe-bryants-insane-work-ethic/.Cena, John. Brainyquote.com, Brainyquote, www.brainyquote.com/quotes/john_cena_571321.Cohen, Jennifer. “5 Life Lessons We Can Learn from Pro Athletes.” Mensfitness.com, Men’s Fitness, 29 Sept. 2016, www.mensfitness.com/sports/5-life-lessons-we-can-learn-pro-athletes.”Elite Athletes Spend 10,000 Hours Training for London 2012.” Insidethegames.biz, Inside the Games, 18 Nov. 2010, www.insidethegames.biz/articles/11108/elite-athletes-spend-10000-hours-training-for-london-2012.Israeli, Dan. “Top 10 Smartest Athletes in Professional Sports.” Mensfitness.com, Men’s Fitness, 14 Dec. 2011, www.mensfitness.com/life/sports/top-10-smartest-athletes-in-professional-sports.”J.J. Watt Details Plan For Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund’s $37 Million | SI Wire | Sports Illustrated.” YouTube, 26 Oct. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2LswXaq8y8.Kraft, Aaron. “Top 15 Athletes Who Are The Best Rolemodels.” Thesportster.com, TheSportster, 22 May 2015, www.thesportster.com/entertainment/top-15-athletes-who-are-the-best-rolemodels/.”National Survey of Kids ( and Their Parents) About Famous Athletes as Role Models.” Kaiser Family Foundation.