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Why censoring athletes is bad for the youth

Author: KeithJJ

Why censoring athletes is bad for the youth

Sports professionals are looked at as heroes, role models and important figures in so many children’s lives. Athletes give. They can teach important lessons on about work values – but how the public treats athletes needs to be an essential issue as well.

More than 92% of children rank athletes as their role models – right after their parents – according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. For so many children, sport is a significant part of their childhood, and athletes represent what can be if one works hard enough.  

 The topic has been debated by psychologists, academics and the media for decades. There is no doubt that athletes need to recognise that their position as role models has important implications on children.

This also means that athletes are important in the sport and development sector. Children who might struggle with low socioeconomic status will look up to athletes to feel hopeful; they show that hard work and perseverance pay off.  However, what about our responsibility for how we treat these athletes?

In light of the case of Colin Kaepernick, the American football player who was censored for protesting during the national anthem , we need to examine the way the public treats athletes in front of the children. The way we handle situations with professional athletes is a lesson for the children who look up to them. By censoring athletes or limiting their self-expression, we send a message to young impressionable minds that taking a stance has negative consequences. Kaepernick was protesting for what he believed to be important social justice issues.

The way the National Football League (NFL) responded to the situation was a clear message to the public that protesting and expressing discontent are not welcome. Athletes usually represent perseverance and the values of hard work and honestly – so why should their pay back be censorship and suspension?   

This is not only limited to the NFL itself, but all adults talking about such issues need to understand the effect that their words have on those listening. How we treat and talk about athletes, the perceived heroes, is as important as how athletes act in the public eye.

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Published

Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - 11:55

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