Monday, November 9, 2009

Role models

When I was growing up I was a big time Dodger fan. I went to some of their games, collected their baseball cards, and had favorite players on the team. There was much greater roster continuity back then, with the same players staying with teams year after year, especially the stars.

I used to watch Home Run Derby on TV. All the big baseball stars of the day appeared on the show and engaged in normal, if campy, conversation with the announcer. Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Ernie Banks, etc. It was a different time, and you didn't see distasteful swagger from these players on that show.

While still a Dodger fan today, I would be hard pressed any given year to name two or three Dodger players. In fact, it is easy to become disillusioned with professional sports when we hear so much of greed, cheating, criminal activity, and just general selfishness and bad behavior. It is appalling to consider the bad role models too many professional athletes present.

I read a news item recently that remarked how awful Michael Jordan's acceptance speech was upon his induction into the basketball hall of fame. So I found it on youtube and watched all 26 minutes of a largely self-centered account of his career, with various digs at other people along the way. What a shame that the greatest basketball player of all time couldn't show more grace and gratitude in a big moment such as this.

Out of curiosity I watched the speeches of John Stockton and David Robinson, also inducted into the HOF. What a contrast! Each came across as grateful and humble, and talked about and to their wives and each of their several children. David Robinson played basketball for Navy, and was the top pro pick, I believe, yet remained true to his military obligation and served his active duty time before going pro. Right away you knew he was somebody special. At the conclusion of his speech he acknowledged the influence of Christ in his life, and pretty much bore his testimony of the Saviour. I admit it brought tears to my eyes. Here is a link to his seven minute speech.

Yes, there are good role models out there in pro sports.


  1. Good thoughts in this post. Sometimes it seems that fame and fortune bring out the worst in people, but I suspect there are more upright role models out there than we know. They just don't get much press.

  2. I am reading Where Men Win Glory right now about NFL player Pat Tillman. He was a pretty great guy. He played for the Arizona Cardinals, turned down a $9.6 million offer for the St. Louis Rams because it wouldn't be fair to the Cardinals (who were paying him the league minimum of $512,000) and enlisted in the Army after 9/11. He was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan and this book has a lot of his journal excerpts. I don't follow a lot of sports and am not familiar with too many professional athletes but Pat Tillman seems like a good guy.