More Than Just A Sport

Photos courtesy of nymag.com [left] and nbcolympics.com [right] || Colin Kaepernick, a football player on the San Fransisco 49ers and Rafael Nadal, a Spanish tennis pro use their position as pro-athletes to promote values important to them.

Photos courtesy of nymag.com [left] and nbcolympics.com [right] || Colin Kaepernick, a football player on the San Fransisco 49ers and Rafael Nadal, a Spanish tennis pro use their position as pro-athletes to promote values important to them.

Cameo Tietje ‘18
Sports Editor

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of an athlete? Is it the way we dress? Maybe it is the scene of us swarming a table in Tyler after a morning lift or afternoon practice. What about an athlete’s character? Athletes are pushed to their breaking point, mentally and physically, every day. Despite these high emotion and high-stress situations, athletes persevere, support their teammates and show respect to one another. These characteristics follow through to everyday life. There are numerous examples that testify to athletes’ characters. Colin Kaepernick and Rafael Nadal are two pro-athletes who are perfect examples of positive characteristics that are fostered during sports and brought into the public.

Although Colin Kaepernick was the backup quarterback for the San Fransisco 49ers, he has been in the forefront of the media this year. This football season, Kaepernick has kneeled during the national anthem in silent and peaceful protest against widespread racial bias and inequality throughout the country. His actions have influenced athletes from Megan Rapinoe, of the women’s national soccer team, to high school teams like that of Aurora Central High School in Colorado. Although his protest is controversial, his actions have been respectful and far-reaching. Throughout the season, Kaepernick has been composed and respectful and has contended his values. Kaepernick learned how to persevere in times of strife, both on and off the field. A result of Kaepernick’s hard work is his new starting quarterback position for the 49ers in week six against the Buffalo Bills.

Another example of strong character is Rafael Nadal. Nadal is a professional tennis player for Spain.  He is currently ranked number five in the world. During a double exhibition of world champions, Nadal paused play in order to help a woman find her missing child. Right before his serve he noticed a commotion in the stands, and shortly after, the missing child was found. While Kaepernick embodied fortitude, Nadal showed compassion on the court. Even with such an important match on the line, Nadal put a mother and child’s safety above his life’s passion and career. Despite never meeting the mother or child prior to the incident, Nadal took the time to interpret what was going on around him and realize the dire situation. It is this attention to detail, vigilance and interpretation of a situation that Nadal learned on the court. While fans were there to see and support him, Nadal took his time to notice them as well. This is another example of a pro-athlete taking what he has learned on the court to help support the people around him.

Sports, at any level of play, test peoples’ character. When an athlete pushes to get that last touch on a ball headed for the net or that extra 30 yard sprint to support a teammate, their will is tested. Having your will tested brings out the best and worst of people. In a way, it heightens peoples’ emotions and characteristics during play. When you cannot support yourself mentally and physically, your teammates will be there. It is this same mentality that is shown in the actions of Colin Kaepernick kneeling in solidarity with so many others across the nation, and in Rafael Nadal’s compassion, empathy and support for a mother and her child in the stands.

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