With the global popularity that sports have today, it is no wonder that professional athletes have achieved celebrity status across the world. The celebrity-like exposure of athletes has resulted in an extreme following and admiration of them, especially from children. Some recent examples of children being inspired and influenced by professional athletes involve Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers, Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, and Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona.
Cam Newton, current NFL MVP, has been the target of talk for much of the 2015/2016 NFL season. His touchdown celebrations and handouts of game balls to kids in the stands has been a hugely popular topic of discussion over the past season. These actions have resulted in young NFL fans everywhere filming themselves performing the “dab,” the dance of choice for Newton’s celebrations, and now any Carolina fan attending a Panther’s game rushes as close to front of the stands as they can get, in hopes of receiving a priceless game ball from Mr. Newton himself.
Steph Curry, reigning NBA MVP, has some incredible ball handling skills. His moves have inspired young basketball players to start imitating his dribbling practices so that they too can be as good as he is. Some exceptionally talented boys and girls have recently begun uploading videos of themselves trying to imitate Curry’s pre-game dribbling routine, and one lucky kid was even invited to dribble along-side Curry during warm-ups at a Warriors-Pacers game this past January.
Lionel Messi, who’s soccer skill is other-worldly, has a young fan in Afghanistan with such admiration for him that he turned the only thing he could find, a plastic bag, into a replica “Messi” jersey. Wearing your favorite player’s jersey is one of the best ways to show off your admiration for a player and is a way to tie yourself to him or her. When the image of this young fan in his makeshift jersey went viral, it caught the attention of Messi, who plans to use his foundation to arrange an opportunity for the athlete and young fan to meet.
The examples mentioned above are just some of the ways that professional athletes all over the world have gained the attention and admiration of young sports enthusiasts, and the impact that their actions can have. From creating inspiration for viral videos or images, to making a kid’s day by giving them a football, the platform that professional athletes have been given is an important tool from which they can inspire children.