Having a role model in a sport can encourage kids to dream big

Braxton Henrie, Reporter

WHETHER a sports fan or not, everyone knows the name of at least one professional sports athlete. Whether it’s Kobe Bryant, Shaq, Jerry Rice, Steph Curry, Michael Jordan, Michael Oher, Bo Jackson or the great Jackie Robinson, all of these athletes are well-known people that are role models for the nation’s youth.

Today’s sports role models can have a positive or negative impact on the youth. People can relate some of the names that were just listed with both positive and negative actions. For example, Jackie Robinson broke the Major League Baseball color line. Or, on the other hand, there’s OJ Simpson, a six-time Pro Bowl football player who is currently serving a 33-year jail sentence in Clark County, Nevada for armed robbery and kidnapping.

There is also Michael Oher who grew up poor and in challenging circumstances until he was taken in by a loving family and learned to play football. Oher later went on to play in the NFL, where he won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens. Professional athletes are celebrities, and millions of kids around the world are watching them play and following in their examples—whether it be good or bad.

Chris Tagaloa (‘18) has looked up to Michael Jordan ever since he was little. “Just the way he held himself to a high standard is what made him such a good role model to look up to. I want to be like that someday. His playing is what inspired me to get into basketball in the first place,” said Tagaloa. “Having Jordan as a role model is very inspirational. Watching is his highlights always inspires me to be the best I can and inspires me to take my game to the next level,” Tagaloa added.

J.J. Watt, defensive end for the Houston Texans, raised over 37 million dollars to help the victims of hurricane Harvey back in 2017. A big part of all sports is being able to communicate with the team and picking them up instead of putting them down. Although the players trash-talk during the games, it’s all part of the competition and the challenge to win.

Athletes show kids that people can come from nothing and end up having it all. They teach people that they can do anything. As long as they put your heart in it, they can come out on top.

“Having a sports player as a role model can have a significant impact on children. I looked up to Jerry Rice and Donald Driver when I was a kid. I would watch them all the time on Sundays. They were the best receivers when I was a kid. Watching them encouraged me to join sports. I did track and field, and football during my time at Granger,” Kaden Christansen (‘16). “Having someone to look up to really helped me when I was a kid, especially when I wanted to join sports. I feel like they gave me the courage and strength to join the sport, but my family gave me the heart to go on,” Christansen said.

Athlete role models have inspired and encouraged Lancers to become all that they dream of being. These positive influences have created a motivated body of students and athletes.