In my ideal world, the athlete would be a different fellow than what we know now. He would be a role model, someone that children could look up to. As a role model, the athlete would be involved in his community. He isn’t perfect, nor do we expect him to be, but he is someone that fans could look at and say, “You know what? He’s a good joe.”
He would never be a thug, for any illegal activity would mean immediate termination and criminal charges filed. He would not be allowed to sit out for just a few games; he would be sitting out for life, without pay. For that is not the way of our athlete. He would stand up for the little guy, and never suffer bullying.
The athlete would be a hometown hero, not imported, and never manufactured. He would represent the best of his home town (and surrounding areas), in a spirit similar to the Olympics. He never uses performance-enhancing drugs, for he has earned his way through hard work and dedication.
The ability to be an athlete is not based upon gender or the color of one’s skin, but on performance, hard work, dedication, and character.
The athlete may strive to win, but winning isn’t everything to him. For he lives to meet the spirit of the game and to play with sportsmanlike behavior.
This is my ideal for what the athlete should be. Like many things in life, ideals are often far from reality. Still, I believe that we should strive for those ideals. To all of you athletes out there who play with honor and who are good role models within your communities, I salute you.