Following sports is so much fun, but occasionally, negative situations sour us to the athletes involved and even athletes in general.
In fact, it seems like there are so many athletes that are doing things “the wrong way,” that when an athlete like Tim Tebow comes along who is doing things “the right way,” he gets beaten into our heads so much that we end up turning on him as well.
Personally, I think that there are just many good guys in the sports world as there are bad guys; it’s just that they don’t make as compelling of a story.
Everyone loves to read about the guy that choked his coach, or broke a television, or stomped on a dude’s arm…so an athlete reading to a bunch of kindergartners isn’t that big of a story.
However, there is one athlete – maybe an athlete that folks outside the Midwest have never even heard of – who is doing things the right way.
Meet Baron Batch.
Image source: @Baron_Batch
Baron is a former standout running back at Texas Tech University, and he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers this past season. It looked like Baron was going to add some much needed depth to the Pittsburgh running back corps, but in the preseason he ended up blowing out his knee and being placed on injured reserve.
Baron would not be denied. Instead of sulking that he would be missing a year of the game he loved, he chose to use his platform to take to one of his other loves – writing.
I have never met Baron Batch, but we became acquainted a few months back when Verizon Wireless chose both of us to participate in a study. He, myself, and eight other writers are trying out the Droid Bionic and the Motorola Xoom for a few months.
I have gradually gotten to know Baron over the last few months via Facebook and his twitter account. To be completely honest, he is one of the most intelligent and thoughtful individuals I know…he’s not just an intelligent athlete. He makes me think in general.
I have read many of Baron’s blog posts, and each one is more insightful than the next; and a few days ago he started a simple mission.
Because he has been blessed so much this past year by making it to the NFL, he wanted to do something for others. Apparently, the Batch family didn’t grow up giving gobs of presents to each other for Christmas, so Baron felt awkward about simply buying himself or his family members tons of gifts.
Instead, he decided to start Operation Random Christmas Blessing.
Through a series of events (I’ll let you read his words, not mine), Baron decided to give back to a family in need. For every single new Twitter follower he gets in the next ten days, he will donate $0.25 into a fund for them.
Now, Baron doesn’t necessarily need me to crusade for him, but the idea is awesomely simple.
You don’t have to do any work.
You don’t have to give any money.
You don’t have to spend any time.
All you have to do is follow him, and he will do the rest.
Maybe you were looking for a way to give back this year, but the economy has hit you and your family in a rough way. Maybe you were looking for a way to give back, and you just didn’t know who to give to.
Let me tell you that this is most definitely a worthy cause.
One great part of this is that Baron is probably my favorite athlete to follow on Twitter. That doesn’t necessarily matter in the grand scheme of this fundraiser, but it is a great side-benefit. He’s funny, open, and real.
Seriously, once a week he opens up his phone lines and will call and text anyone for an hour. Last week, I was in awe as people were tweeting at 3 AM how cool it was that Baron took the time to text them back. It’s crazy how big of a deal it is, but when he texted me back the same night, I couldn’t wait to proudly show my class at school the text message I received from a real NFL athlete.
What other athlete do you know with that kind of relationship with his fans? (He had over 14,000 followers at the time, and to my knowledge, responded to EVERYONE that reached out to him.)
I don’t want to embarrass Baron by bragging about him too much, but he is the athlete we should be holding up as an example to our youth. He’s real – and he’s using his platform to help others.
So go ahead, follow Baron, and help him help someone else this Christmas.