I am not just an athlete

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ANGELINE GERVACIO

There’s a misconception on being an athlete in our society. Most people think that athletes aren’t of much value, as they don’t really contribute as much as doctors, lawyers or businessmen in the betterment of life. The older generation would suggest that those who chose to be professional athletes just wasted their college degrees by becoming members of the varsity team. It is only recently that real opportunities are available to career athletes. And with this, comes the chance to play big roles in our society.

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Famous athletes are public figures. They are seen as role models, thus the responsibility for them to be good members of society. Why you might ask? Well first, sports engage a lot of people. Just reflect on how many times Manila had low crime rates every time Manny Pacquiao has a fight. Sports reaches out to children of every age, making them aspire to be great, to be like the legends—Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, or LeBron James. Even among adults, it stirs conversations that a lot of times end in debates like for example, who truly is the GOAT (Greatest of All Time)? Sports also give hope to the marginalized members our society. Just see how Serena Williams, a woman of color, emerged to be one of tennis’ greats, having 23 grand slam titles up her sleeve. Sports has a way of uniting communities, generations, even cultures and above it all—athletes.

Let’s go back to the basics and see how student-athletes are already seen as role models in our society. As members of an institution, they are honed to become good examples and representatives of their school. Remember how two years ago, a student-athlete got caught DUI? We know for a fact that the university had to discipline him eventually, just proving the point that student-athletes are under the watchful eyes of the public, thus they must be responsible citizens of our community.

After graduation, student-athletes would realize that they have an edge in landing a job. It is notable that companies now prefer to hire former collegiate athletes. As individuals who managed to cope with the demands of being a student and an athlete at the same time, they are seen as potential assets. Student-athletes possess qualities they’ve learned on the court that would make model employees among them good work ethic, time management skill, discipline and rapport.

Professional athletes also carry the responsibility of leading clean and exemplary lives. Remember the brouhaha Tiger Woods had to face when his illicit affairs came out into the open?. On the better side of things, locally we have Marc Pingris a symbol of the best father and husband one could have.

Celebrity athletes are common nowadays but we remain hopeful that there are still a lot of athletes who are playing simply for the love of the game and not fame.

So hats off to the athletes who make this world a better place, one shot, one spike, one goal at a time.

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