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How Sportsmen Inspire Others

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“When you stay on purpose and refuse to be discouraged by fear, you align with the infinite self, in which all possibilities exist”—Wayne Dyer.

Inspiration is nurtured by the people past and present and have used their interpretation to create and do “remarkable things”. Our world has embraced inspiration as a necessity in life to make progress, evolve, and reach heights greater than imagined. To be inspired, is where one has ability to move the intellect or emotions to another, where they are encouraged to complete a certain activity. This can vary, for example, Sport, is another important part of our lives and some athletes are seen to be role models for people and the next generation. In the Nike commercial in the spring of 1993, a star NBA player, Charles Buckley, made the controversial comment that ““I am not a role model. Parents should be role models. Just because I can dunk a basketball, doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.” Other athletes such as Karl Malone disagreed with Charles and said “Charles.. I don’t think that’s your decision to make. We don’t choose to be a role model. Our only choice is whether to be a good model or a bad one.”

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In our society, we have a range of elite athletes participating in different sports that act as inspiration for children and new athletes. In the Rio Olympics in 2016, a 5000m female runner, Nikki Hamblin from New Zealand decided to stop during the final to help a competitor Abbey D’Agostino from the US after she crashed on the track. Hamblin assisted D’Agostino until she could continue the race and sacrificed the possible medal. In the 1988, Seoul Olympics, a Canadian sailor, Lawrence Lemieux rescued the athletes of another capsized competing vessel, and sacrificed the silver medal position. The issue here is athletes in the 20th and 21st century is expected to be good role models, exempt good sportsmanship, and sometimes good sportsmanship would be in tension with winning. It is sometimes very difficult to pinpoint which athletes are good role models for which reasons, with increasing media broadcasting of elite athletes’ lives in the media, which allows us to capture the whole picture of an athlete. This scrutiny in modern society is because of how much sport influences the world, reflecting sports culture and wider society. This can allow us to identify social issues present in society and use ways to solve these issues, most commonly surrounding sexism and racism. Although not all athletes are bad role models, this but it alarms us to those who are not embracing the “Olympic idea”, “Sportsmanship” and the minimum standard of conduct.

Social issues are raised through sport, not necessarily in the game, but outside of the game. A very recent and very controversial topic would be the Nick Kyrgios comment made against Stan Wawrinka, “Kokkinakis banged your girlfriend,” and the comment went viral, social media went into meltdown. People condemned the Australian tennis player for his comment and he was fined $10,000, however this comment hides a dark part of our society. It rings and alarms us of sexism in sport present today, with people addressing his comment as “slut shaming” where a woman is criticized for her behavior and appearance of sexuality. This reminds us of female discrimination present in sport today, which contradicts to the values we believe in sport, where a game is played fair and no outside interruptions to the game are allowed. Cathy Freeman, one of Australia’s best Indigenous runners, being role models for thousands of indigenous Australians was criticized badly at the 1994 Commonwealth Games by the Australian chef de mission Arthur Tunstall and banned it for the rest of the games “we should all compete under one flag.” The media commented that “Aboriginal Australia is not recognized as a self-governing nation.” This reflects the gap between the white Australians and the Aborigines still suffering from racism today. Sport has decently maintained fairness on the court or field, and off the field, but still prominent issues raised through sport are needed to be solved.

To what extent should athletes be role models and inspiration for children and the younger generation? Talented athletes are unlikely to always win, and do not always exempt fair play but for children and the next generation, it is likely the character, the personality and the like that favors them as inspiration. A Professor of Philosophy at Creighton University argues “we know about celebrated athletes’ exemplary conduct in sport”, but “there is nothing intrinsic to athletic participation that merits the status of being a moral exemplar.”

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