It requires a special breed of a person to be an athlete. The person must possess just the right combination of physical tools, mental capacity and raw talent to be able to compete at any level. Then there are those elite athletes who play at a professional level that are considered a physical specimen or God’s gift to the sport to win the attention of the media and become a household name around the sport solely based upon their figure or performance.
But the true measure of an athlete, the thing that I and many sports fans admire most, is the way athletes present themselves off the playing field, out of the limelight, and in their daily lives.
Being able to compete at a high level is a gift; being able to live life the right way is a necessity. It requires a special breed of person to be an athlete.
Speed. Quickness. Awareness. Strength. Vertical jump. Bat speed. Sure, all are ultimately skills athletes need to have in order to excel on the playing field. But will any of these be of use outside of the athletic venue?
Decision-making in today’s society has become a lost art among the elite in professional athletes, although a certain No. 4 has become the modern day Picasso in that regard. Too many have failed or made poor decisions that cost them their job, but more importantly, their respect and dignity.
Alex Rodriguez was the golden boy of baseball. He had the perfect smile, always said the right things, was a great role model, and was the perfect 252-million-dollar man. Then he made one wrong decision that cost him his reputation, identity and all respect.
Tiger Woods had the most manicured, spotless persona, and in my opinion, was one of the best athletes in the world. He had an uncanny way of winning over the media. But then the world caught wind of his extracurricular marital activity, and his image has become permanently tarnished. Is it a coincidence that the same skills that makes him so good at golf: his mental fortitude, integrity, persistence, and a low handicap were not evident when he made the ill-advised decision?
The Derek Jeters, David Robinsons, Tim Tebows and Peyton Mannings of today have become a dying breed in professional sports.
You haven’t heard about Peyton Manning using performance enhancing drugs or David Robinson cheating on his wife.
Athletes are automatically placed on a higher pedestal because of their job and all the attention that goes along with it. Â And rightfully so. They should use their position of power to be a light, to provide a positive example and inspire others to live in a way worthy of the attention they receive.