The Change We All Want to See
Image source SI.com
The other day I asked my boyfriend’s nine-year-old son what he wanted to be when he grew up, to which he confidently answered, “I’m going to be in the NFL so I can be rich and have a shark tank in my house and drive a Tes-a-la. If you’re still dating my dad when I’m a grown up, I’ll buy you a mansion too.”
Jokes and cuteness aside, I started thinking about how much kids look up to professional athletes and celebrities (don’t even get me started on Jake Paul…) and it’s honestly scary to think about how much influence these characters have on the next generation. Kids are growing up thinking money=happiness because their favorite athlete or YouTube star drives around a fancy car, owns an elaborate house (apparently with a shark tank?) and wears their money on their sleeves.
While this has concerned me even before hearing of Kingston’s dream, my anxieties for the next generation are set aside when I hear of athletes genuinely using their “success” to better the lives of others. Recently while reading through TODAY.com’s “Good News” section, I came across an article on Eagle’s player (and former Patriot!) Chris Long and his “Pledge 10 for Tomorrow” campaign.
The defensive end is not getting paid this season and not because he was cut, but because he’s using every penny from his final paychecks to support educational equity and opportunity in Philly, Boston and St. Louis (all cities that he’s played for professionally).
The official press release quotes Long as saying, “My wife and I have been passionate about education being a gateway for upward mobility and equality,” Long told The Associated Press. “I think we can all agree that equity in education can help affect change that we all want to see in this country.”
While I would classify Long as a hero, in an interview with NBC Philadelphia he said, “This isn’t a hero thing. It’s nothing like that. It’s honestly just that I want to put my money where my mouth is.”
My hope for the future is that athletes continue to recognize their impact on children (and honestly grownups, too…) and continue to fight for equality in our country. Having role models who make money is fine, but it’s great when kids can look up to someone who uses their money to make the lives of others better, even if it is just buying your dad’s girlfriend a mansion 😊.
Posted by Christina B.