I play in a sport where we try to get kids to want to be like us. But I’ve seen some of us. And I’m not proud of some of us. I am not proud at all. Please, kids, do not be like some of us.
Of course there are other athletes that are great role models. They are the ones you point out, and you turn to your kids and say, “If you want to be like a pro athlete, be like him.”
It’s not always easy to know which is which. It can be really tough. Do I want a kid to be like me? In some ways, yes! But in other ways, you know, no! We change. We learn, we grow, we mature. I mean, I’ve sure learned! But I’d rather see kids learn differently than the way I did, because I’ve learned the hard way. I’ve done things I’m really not proud of. In Kansas City, I attacked my bench coach, and it was on television. Can you imagine? If that’s all anyone knows about me, then I’d say to a kid, “Don’t be like me. Not like that.”
But it would be really fulfilling to think that kids would want to be like me because I try to love others the way the King of Kings has loved me. I would love for more pro athletes to embrace the love angle, the humanitarian angle, the justice angle.
Professional athletes have the ability to make a lot of money, just because people want to be entertained. And this creates an incredible opportunity. Because we can make a lot of money, we can do a lot of good. Here’s an idea: what if more ballplayers got involved in humanitarian issues? You know what that would do? It would involve the fans!
Fans yell at us all the time. I’m sure you’ve heard them. “You know I pay your salary!” That has the potential to get under your skin, but I say, “You know what? It’s true. You do pay my salary. And I respect that.”
If more ballplayers were involved in doing humanitarian work, maybe the fans wouldn’t get angry. Maybe they wouldn’t yell about paying our salaries. Maybe instead they would say, “We love to pay $17.00 to come to the game. Why? Because we know our money is going further than your bank account. We know that what you’re doing outside of yourself is pure and loving. Our $17.00 doesn’t go that far. But when our $17.00 is joined with everyone else’s $17.00, we can do something really good, something we’re really proud of.”
What if we could promise the fans that when they buy a ticket to a game, their money is going further than players’ salaries, into food or clean water wells or shelters or education or freeing slaves?
I don’t know if this can be achieved, but it’s an exciting concept!