One of the oldest stereotypes in the book is that of the “dumb jock,” or the idea of the macho male athlete who is self-centered and boastful whenever he gets the chance to be. In professional sports, the term “greedy” is thrown into that stereotype.
In the world of sports where money gets toss at athletes right and left for contracts and endorsements, it’s like cash is king and often supersedes winning. Almost every die-hard fan has a story of when they were stiffed by an athlete when wanting an autograph or just a simple handshake, making it seem like these multimillionaires forget that fans indirectly pay them.
However, when you take a step back and looks at some of the brightest young stars in the major American sports, some guys stand out for not fitting that stereotype.
At the forefront of this is Kevin Durant. The two-time scoring champion further cemented himself on Tuesday as one of the most likable superstars in all of sports.
He was in the news for donating one million dollars to the Red Cross for the relief efforts with the Oklahoma City tornado. Durant – who has been viewed as one of the NBA’s most humble superstars since very early in his career – wasn’t even the one to go public with the news, as the Red Cross came out and made the announcement. The NBA and the Oklahoma City Thunder are matching Durant’s donation as well.
Matt Kemp is another example. Kemp is an Oklahoma City native who just pledged that he’d donate $1,000 for every home run he hits from now up until the All-Star break to the cause. While Kemp’s power this season isn’t anywhere near where it usually is, that’s beside the point. The principle of the gesture that matters.
Yes, $1,000 is a mere fraction of the $20 million that Magic Johnson and the Dodgers will pay the center fielder this year, but it’s certainly an action that breaks the aforementioned stereotype of greedy, self-centeredness among athletes.
However, Kemp’s Oklahoma City donation wasn’t what we first noticed most recently. A video surfaced recently on YouTube of a gesture of kindness Kemp showed towards a young Dodgers fan dying of cancer. The fan was just expecting Kemp to sign a baseball for him, but Kemp also gave him his hat, jersey, and spikes as a show of gratitude.
In a day in age where some players simply ignore fans by chatting with their teammates or putting on headphones as they walk past, it’s refreshing to see one of the faces of the sport show this appreciation.
It looks as if this trend won’t stop with Durant and Kemp, as many of the younger star athletes appear to have qualities about them that do not go along with the prima donna stereotype. Players like Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, Mike Trout and other budding starts around the sports landscape just seem to have a better understanding of how highly thought of athletes are in society. They carry themselves in a much more positive manner because of it.
Growing up, someone probably told you at some point the cliché “it only takes one person to change the world.” While that’s true for everyone, it’s even easier for players like Durant and Kemp, as they have the platform to reach millions of people in an instant. Players like Durant and Kemp mean so much to the cities they play in and the towns they grew up in. The acts they’ve preformed over the past week show that they are aware of that.
Think about just how many people Durant and Kemp touched with their actions.
That is the power athletes have, and Durant and Kemp could be a part of a new generation. One that knows that better than any other generation before them.