Sports heroes still out there despite negative media


Houston Texans hero, JJ Watt high fives a fan as he helps to load boxes for hurricane relief. (photo by Getty Images, used with permission)

Benjamin Patterson, Sports Editor

    Despite the recent controversies of the NFL that have killed the reputations of some of the brightest stars, there are several players that have done great things with their money and time off the field.

    One of the most impressive is JJ Watt of the Houston Texans, who raised over 30 million dollars for Hurricane Harvey relief. Although he was not the only player to donate, his contributions made the biggest impact.

    Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals, started his own charity to help kids from low-income families and the inner city reach their full potential. These are only two of the hundreds of players in the NFL who are role models for youths.

    Alex Morgan, who plays for the U.S. Women’s Soccer team, also fights for gender equality. The average salary of the women’s team is considerably lower than the men’s team, even though the women’s team has had more success. Morgan and several of her teammates filed a complaint with the federal government to receive equal pay with their male counterparts. She has inspired women in other jobs to fight for equal pay as well.

    These positive contributions to society do not always have to be in the form of millions of dollars. Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars brings a young child with disabilities and their family to every Stars home game, and also goes to meet the family before the games. While it is not as flashy as massive donations, he has given hundreds of kids an experience that they will remember the rest of their lives.

    Unfortunately, these gestures are generally overshadowed by scandals and crimes committed by other players. This season Colin Kaepernick has not been signed to any NFL team because of his national anthem protests while a member of the 49ers. He has led a team to the Super Bowl, and there is no way to say that there are 64 quarterbacks better than him in the league. There is no reason for him not to have a job in the NFL, especially with some of the injuries that have happened this year. However, his protests have made teams hesitant to sign him, and ESPN has spent hours of broadcast time covering this issue. It became such a big deal that the president started to weigh in on the issue and take attention away from the good that players are doing.

    Not only on sports channels, but news channels also give air time for crimes or injustices caused by pro athletes. There are generally stories on the local news about people helping the community, but it is very hard to remember those stories when the news covers DUIs and arrests of stars and athletes.

    With the ongoing issues surrounding Ezekiel Elliott, he has spent more air time than any athlete the past few months. Elliott is far from the first player to have off-field issues, but all of the unnecessary appeals, reinstatements and predictions about whether he will play or not, a lot of air time has been wasted that could have been used to talk about JJ Watt raising 40 million dollars, or something else that would not diminish the reputation of professional athletes. Athletes that do great things off the field should be on the news more than those who do illegal things.