We’re blessed to have two fabulous – dare I say historic – idols for kids in professional sports right now.
Jeremy Lin and Tim Tebow are gifts.
For me, as a kid growing up in Pittsburgh in the late 60s and 70s, it was Roberto Clemente. He played his heart out, he had his many unconventional habits (e.g. neck-twitching before each at-bat), he was the first Latino superstar in baseball, and he was extremely generous to the place of his impoverished upbringing – Puerto Rico.
Many adults scoff at idolization by children, but I can say that focusing on such a great man helped build my character. I committed myself to always bust my butt like Roberto in all the sports I played, and later, I carried this over to other activities. I liked, and still like, being unconventional. I have my quirks (I never wear a tie), and like Roberto, I display them proudly.
The problem isn’t idolization of athletes. It’s in our supply of potential “idols.” Let’s face it – most great athletes don’t have exemplary characters.
Lin and Tebow are different. They’re unselfish. They’re modest. They play very, very hard, but they play fair. They don’t criticize the many who have criticized them.
So, I say, talk up Lin and Tebow to your kids. Buy your kids books about those guys (the first chapter book I read was about Roberto). Watch them on TV. Revel together in their miraculous success. Lin’s last-second three-pointer to win the Knicks’ game last night was one of those unique moments of pure unadulterated sports joy, and his interview after the game is a huge lesson in character.
And Tebow last fall??? Sheesh, I didn’t even feel too bad when he beat my Pittsburgh Steelers in dramatic fashion in the playoffs a month ago.
Our kids are blessed to be growing up with Tebowmania and Linsanity in their midst. Let’s use them.