When someone says pro-athletes, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? A paycheck with a jersey on who doesn’t care about other people? If so, you may be one of the millions who see them as overpaid, self-obsessed people. But do they all deserve that label?

All we ever seem to hear about is when this player got arrested for driving under the influence, another for sexual assault, and we all remember that time when a certain NFL player got arrested for accidentally shooting himself in the thigh.

Do you remember the good old days when  you never really heard about players getting arrested? You only heard about the great things they did not only on, but off the court as well. That’s why this topic struck my interest –because we never hear about professional athletes doing charity work  or good deeds. Many don’t believe they deserve the big paycheck without the charity work.  But, just because we don’t hear about it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

Think about it this way –we don’t always hear about a cop who saved a store owner while being shot at by a robber, we don’t hear about a firefighter who rescued someone from a burning house or  even an emergency medical technician working tirelessly to keep someone from going into cardiac arrest.

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Does that mean it doesn’t happen? No, all it means is that it’s not news that  editors want to run; face it, infamy sells– that’s why we hear more about arrests than any thing else.

So, is it really our place to judge them and gauge their paycheck by the work they do outside their job? No. As long as they show up for practices,   games,required meetings, do a good job and follow both the league and the team’s rules, then there’s no reason they shouldn’t get paid.

How would you like it if someone came to your work place and said that you don’t deserve your paycheck because you didn’t do enough outside of work. It is true that some companies do require volunteer work, but it’s a  minimal amount.

Chasing a ball or a puck around a field or court may seem pretty easy to us –but then again  your livelihood doesn’t depend on the three -pointer.

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I’ve never played pro- anything, but I can guarantee you there is a lot more stress on those players, as they’re  trying to not get tackled before their  team can get a first down,  than you ever had  trying to win back the 20 bucks that you bet on your pick-up game.

Nothing is as easy as it seems-and that’s what some people have to  understand. Most working people have 9 to 5 jobs, Monday through Friday. Athletes aren’t as lucky.  Take the New York Jets for example. They work six days a week, with only Tuesday off. They split their time at work, between practicing, watching videos and lifting weights so they’re physically fit.  As Marty Lyons,  former New York Jet, puts it, “it’s a full time job.”

So, maybe with all the practicing and traveling they have to do, not all athletes have  time. Think of your busy schedule: work, school, home and even kids to take care of.  Maybe you go to the salon once a week. Do you have time to do volunteer work?  Many of these athletes have families just like everyone else. Just because they play sports for a living  and have a locker instead of a desk doesn’t mean that they work any less hard than you.

Secondly, athletes  don’t have the chance to memorize a pitch to a client. They do  practice all week, but  no one knows for sure  what the other team is going to do.

They don’t know if  someone is going to tackle their quaterback before they can run a play.  Anyone who’s ever played competitively can tell you that many things on the field are unpredictable.

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Thirdly, athletes, in general   , have to constantly be on their toes and in top physical shape to try and avoid an injury that could cost them their career.Let’s face it, unless they’re a professional dart player, all they need is one good smack  to the shoulder or knee  or one good fall and their career could be over.

Before you say “boo-hoo poor them,  so they won’t make 5 million dollars,” step back for a second and think that for some of these athletes, the only talent they have is sports. Not all  pro-athletes actually have contracts with their team for consecutive years. Some such as figure skaters, don’t even have a team paycheck to fall back on.  The pathetic aspect is that many –at least that’s what it seems like- spend their money getting into trouble with the law. It’s obviously illegal to break the law, and if that’s what they want to do, it’s their prerogative.

But, there are athletes who do good deeds as well. Take Marty Lyons a former Jets player for example. He started a foundation, the Marty  Lyons’s foundation, in 1982.   The foundation now  spans over 11 states and helps hundreds of children and teens with terminal illnesses  get a wish.

But he’s retired, what about current athletes? Well, I wasn’t  going to let the fact that I couldn’t initially  find anything on Google stop me. After all, just because it’s not readily accessible  online doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

But, there has got to be something on the Internet, especially  on the NFL. It’s the height of the season, you’d think it’d be easy to find;  and I did find something, after hours and hours of  digging. The story was about  New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez,  and an 11-year- old cancer patient named Aiden. It showed that Sanchez truly earns the millions that he’s making.

So, what did he do that was so spectacular? He was a hero to that little boy.

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On Dec. 15th, 2010,  Aiden Binkley went to the Jets training facility in New Jersey. According to various reports, Sanchez and Binkley  exchanged cell phone numbers, and, to Binkley’s surprise, the two routinely texted and  spoke on the phone.

According to ESPN, Sanchez even showed up at Binkley’s house one day and sat by the boy’s feet, waiting  for him to wake up. In numerous articles Aiden’s family mentioned how happy Aiden was  just talking to Sanchez in his last few weeks. Unfortunately, the boy passed away on Dec. 30th. The Daily News reported that Sanchez had offered to pay for the boy’s funeral.   Even though all of this occurred within a few weeks of December, Aiden’s story wasn’t released until after the boy’s funeral was held.

You could argue that he did this one act because  he wanted the good press, but according to his representative and brother Nick Sanchez,  that was the last thing on his mind. Nick  stated that Mark likes to stay away from interviews pertaining to charities because, “he doesn’t want to give the impression that he’s trying to capitalize on good press by supporting these groups.”  In truth, he volunteers andmentors with numerous organizations, many involving youths.

I bet nobody saw that one coming. A celebrity not wanting to capitalize on doing good deeds.  So maybe that’s  the true reason we don’t hear about pro-athletes helping others. They don’t want us to know. Think about that for a moment. Do you expect a citation for volunteering in a hospital or for donating your time if you read for the blind or elderly?

So, yes, some athletes may  need lessons in money management, and perhaps  a visit from the common sense fairy. But, to say that they deserve their pay check to be docked because we think  that they don’t do anything that justifies calling them a hero is wrong.

If you are truly helping others for the sake of helping others, then  you don’t expect to get rewarded with a news article or a citation from the mayor. The reward is a smile or a laugh.  If you don’t expect a reward for every little good thing you do, then why should a pro-athlete get a reward? They shouldn’t and they know that.

So the next time you say an athlete isn’t worth their paycheck for not doing good, you should do two things:

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1) Dig a little deeper than a simple  Google search. Not all pro-athletes are self centered you might be surprised.

2) Ask your yourself if YOU volunteer –those is glass houses should not throw hockey pucks.

 

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