Yes, Professional Athletes Should Be Idolized

By Biya Brook (II), Contributing Writer

After recent controversies, such as the Ja Morant gun incidents and Deshaun Watson’s sexual harassment lawsuits, many have questioned, or even forgotten, the benefits of idolizing professional athletes. Although it may be true that these two individuals serve as poor role models for young fans, it is important to note that they represent a fraction of all professional athletes. Most serve as powerful symbols of inspiration, resilience and achievement, offering valuable life lessons and positively contributing to society through community service.

It is scientifically proven that the human brain has a negative bias, which is a natural tendency to give more weight to negativity than positivity. Sports media also releases more negative stories than positive ones, since they garner more attention. For these reasons, the great deeds of countless professional athletes often go unnoticed. Articles and headlines regarding Ja Morant waving a gun have dominated sports media, while Stephen Curry, who has been using his platform to promote voter registration and has donated six million dollars in funding to the collegiate golf teams at Howard University, isn’t talked about nearly enough.

In addition to being great members of their communities, professional athletes inspire and motivate many young athletes to be just like them. For example, Kylian Mbappe, considered by many to be the best soccer player in the world, was a massive fan of Cristiano Ronaldo in his youth. Mbappe spent many hours watching videos of Ronaldo on the internet, and childhood pictures of him in his room, filled with pictures of Ronaldo, have gone viral. Now a superstar, Mbappe emulates many of the signature moves that Ronaldo performs, and is even able to play games against his idol, smile and converse with him on the pitch. In March 2022, he admitted that he wishes “to imitate Cristiano Ronaldo’s career.” 

Dylan Furlonge (II), a member of the Boston Bolts U17 team and long-time fan of the Brazilian soccer player Neymar, shares a similar sentiment with Mbappe. He explains, “whether it was [Neymar’s] hair, the cleats he wore or the skills he did, I tried to copy it.” Idolizing Neymar, a player known for his skillful dribbling and playmaking, has helped Dylan add moves to his own arsenal. Furlonge also shares, “Me and my cousins would sit around the TV and watch all the games, replaying the skills and goals we saw. Then we would go outside right after and try them. Ultimately, doing that everyday made us better.”

Looking up to professional athletes does not only benefit student athletes, but also non-athlete fans. Carltz Constant (II), an avid Lebron James fan, expresses, “Lebron’s story going from the trenches to one of the greatest basketball players ever is inspirational and motivates me. It is like the hero’s journey, and how he goes through many obstacles but comes out successful […] helps me to continue being determined and go through different challenges.” As Constant claims, the benefits of idolizing professional athletes extend beyond the athletes themselves. People can take their success stories and translate them into their own lives, whether it has anything to do with a certain sport.