By: Jasmine Cochran
In a new ad for the #WeNeedMore Verizon campaign, which urges youngsters to explore careers other than professional sports, LeBron James recently expressed that the world doesn’t need another one of him; we need superstars in all professional spaces.
He’s right. Below is his Instagram post:
“We don’t need more LeBron’s, we need more physical therapists, scientists, police officers, teachers, doctors, professors, physicists, computer engineers, etc!! I want every kid to know there is absolutely NO LIMIT to what you can be. Your dreams are there for you to EARN. The teacher/accountant/scientist/dr/etc is just as talented as any athlete, if not more. I can’t even begin to tell you guys how many incredible men & women I work with who have never seen the court but are just as vital to our success as I am. There’s no way my game is what it is without them. Open your heart & mind to the world around you. See the possible. Dream big. Then work your tail off and chase it. s/o to everyone involved in” #weneedmore. #striveforgreatness#earnednotgiven
As statements do, this one has spurred lively opinions on both sides of LeBron’s viewpoint, and mine is no different. Below are the reasons why I feel James is fully justified in his sentiment, and why parents would do well to heed his advice.
The numbers say
It is nearly impossible for an athlete to make it to the league, and you know what? That really is ok. I played two sports, and even played both of them in college. While athletics afforded me lessons and experiences I may not have had otherwise, I didn’t know about the career possibilities open to me in this life, until after I graduated. I was so fixated on sports, and sold out completely to the idea that I should eat, drink and sleep whatever would bring me athletic success, that I didn’t even consider other options.
Now that I’m 16 years removed from that experience, I realize that I wish I would have known what else was out there. Now, don’t get me wrong; someone’s going to make it to the pros, and it might be your kid. If they feel that genuine passion within to pursue pro athletics, support it as much as you can. If your child has his/her heart set on athletics, don’t kill the dreams, but don’t limit the possibilities to sports, either. Be intentional about showing them the myriad of options available that will bring them happiness, financial stability, and fulfillment. The numbers say that they could make it, but wisdom says not to count on it.
Who doesn’t appreciate
Quality competition? The thrill of witnessing opposing teams fight to prove their superiority over their adversaries is electrifying for both themselves and their audience. However, it’s vital that we, as a society, start celebrating excellence in spaces other than the field or court. Our children are bound to miss out on any number of exhilarating experiences, if we don’t do this. Kids are so influenced by their parents. They’re watching us. They see what gets us fired up and what we despise, and more often than not, in an effort to please or relate, they latch onto what we’ve latched onto. If we’re wild about sports, they likely will be, too.
I often laugh when I see newborns in baseball onesies with captions of “Future Pitcher,” or baby photos set to the backdrop of their parents favorite football team. Those things aren’t reflective of what the kid likes; it’s what Mom and Dad like. I’ve coached kids who were only there because their parents wanted them to be. They’d have rather been doing almost anything else. It’s unfair to try to validate fallen dreams through kids. It only leads to resentment. Celebrate greatness wherever it lies. That way, children will feel accepted and supported, whatever they choose to pursue.
It’s the American way
To assign such jobs as role model for our kids to people whom your kids will never meet. Role models are fine to have, but they should be secondary. We need to teach our kids that role models come from everywhere, and we, as their parents, should be first in line to claim that title. Don’t count on other folks, who they don’t know and will probably never meet, to teach them life the greatest lessons of life. Find real life people with quality values and work ethics, so they can see all the blood, sweat and tears that go into success, instead of just what media allows us to see. Athletes can be great, but if we start to worship them, we’re devastated when they show their humanness, but when we are intentional about being role models for our little ones, they see us in all our forms at all times, and they learn the full truth about achievement and disappointment. Don’t assign that responsibility to celebrity athletes. Let the youth see them for what they are, while simultaneously seeing us for all you are.
Everyone has the potential to achieve greatness of some kind, somewhere in this world, but everyone won’t do it in the same space. Give your children the wings of support, encouragement, and love, and then, give them the entire sky to spread those wings. If we do that, they can’t help but to eventually settle onto their rightful current, and soar.
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Jasmine believes in love, presence, and justice. She also believes in communication, so leave a comment!