by Reggie Fullwood
One of my grandmother’s favorite bible verses is from the Book of Luke, “To whom much is given, much will be required.”
Pretty self explanatory, but it basically means that we are held responsible for what we have. If God blesses us with talents, special abilities, wealth, intellect, etc. it is expected that we use these blessings to help others, which essentially glorifies God.
Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith totally gets the concept. He must know my grandma. Last week, Smithmade an important point on social media and later in a interview with ESPN.
He essentially said that professional athletes should not be charging kids for the sports camps they host. He said, “I keep saying we are robbing these kids because I feel that’s what we’re doing.”
“We’re in the NFL. We’re in a multibillion corporation. You can write that off on your taxes, but you’re charging these kids? There’s no part of it that’s right,” He added.
Smith isn’t the only athlete that feels this way, but it was great to hear a Jacksonville Jaguar player on national news for something positive. If you have ever been to one of these camps or your child has ever asked you to pay for one then you know we are talking about real money – anywhere between $150 to $500 for a day.
Smith is right. Professional football players certainly don’t have a contractual obligation to do individual community service, but most have to do some volunteer work because of their team contracts.
Not everyone can be Lebron James and give millions a year, but all pro athletes can do something to make a difference in their communities – especially the neighborhoods that they grew up in.
The Jag linebacker said that he wasn’t calling out any specific players, but he wanted to make his point to everyone. Smith even said, “Yall Suckers.”
He has also pointed out an interesting fact. NFL players can apply for $1,000-$4,000 grants from the National Football League Foundation to help fund their camps. Players can also get sponsorships from companies to help cover costs and donations from local restaurants to provide lunches and drinks.
So why be socially active when you are rich and may not face the type of hard times or mistreatment that others do? Well the answer is simple, and Dr. Martin Luther King said it best – “Injustice anywhere is a treat to justice everywhere.”
Smith said that he had more than 500 kids at his camp last in home town of Valdosta, GA last summer and of course he didn’t charge anyone a penny.
From giving back through camps or other community-based programs it is the right thing to do.
Unfortunately, in the African American community I do feel that many of our athletes should embrace the “role model” image more freely. Because many of our children come from such deprived households and communities they need to see people that look like them that made it out of a bad situation because they were committed to better themselves.
Unfortunately, it’s human nature – we assume that just because someone makes a ton of money and we see them on television on a regular basis that they are different than most of us.
But how many times have we seen a story where a professional athlete was arrested for a DUI or was suspended from play for violation of drug policies or was arrested for domestic violence?
Athletes are regular people who have used their talents to make money and excel in sports. It doesn’t mean that they are perfect – everyone makes mistakes, but that is a part of our individual testimony.
While I wish that more black athletes would embrace the role model tag, it is unfair to place that burden on anyone… or is it?
Again, as granny keeps reminding me, “To whom much is given, much is required.”
Signing off from Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church,