Pro Athletes’ Influences Extends Beyond the Field

Derek Jeter
Credit: Wikimedia

Derek Jeter Credit: Wikimedia

NFL Pro Bowl Player Odell Beckham Jr. has left many questioning the impact professional sports players have on younger athletes. In games he has let his defenders get in his head, leaving him visibly frustrated, even costing his team the game with personal foul penalties. Beckham, considered one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, has even been suspended for his negative actions on the field.

Some say that these actions are justified and that things happen in the heat of the moment. But part of playing professional sports is all of the intangibles that come with it. Many youth athletes look up to these professionals, and feel that these athletes are role models.

Numerous athletes do their best to portray a positive image both on and off the field, but there are a select few that are unable to do so. Whether it is former New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez getting suspended the entire 2014 season using banned performance enhancing drugs, or former Pro Bowler Ray Rice suspended four games for assaulting his fiancée, Janay Palmer in 2014, this can leave a negative effect on younger athletes in the sports world. It is important to know that Rice has never suited up for an NFL practice or game since.

“Unfortunately, I think that the occasional negative professional sports role model gets more attention than the positive ones,” said Mark Conroy, Athletic Director Williston. “However, there are many, many more positive role examples of professional athletes using their influence to positively impact the youth and their communities by volunteering their time and resources.”

Players like Derek Jeter have volunteered his time creating a positive effect on younger athletes. During his rookie season in 1996, Jeter created what is known as the Turn 2 Foundation, which creates programs that are focused to keep kids away from drugs and alcohol. “Reaching out to young people is important, particularly so I can share with them what I have learned about the value of living a healthy lifestyle,” Jeter wrote on his foundation website.  “It’s not always easy, but I can help them learn how to make good choices that will impact their lives in a positive way.”

“I have always looked up to players that show positive attitudes both on and off the field,” said Williston senior Arvin Fieldman. “It is great to see players use their fame for the better of the community. But, at the same time, it is disappointing to see athletes throw away their career on bad off- the field decisions. They are creating a detrimental impact on youth athletes.” Fieldman, a wrestler and lacrosse player, believes that more athletes need use their position to inspire youth athletes to be good individuals both on and off the field.

Sports also have many other positive impacts on youth. Conroy’s believes that if done the right way, athletics can “inspire interest to play sports which in turn provides a great outlet for exercise, the opportunity to build life-long relationships and experiences, and to be exposed to the educational value of sports.”

Role models like Derek Jeter and many others have been able to show the youth that there is more to the game than money. They play because of the love of the game, not because of how much money is getting put into their pocket. This attitude these athletes have is the reason why they are role models and have such a strong effect on individuals today.