There is a lot to admire about big-time professional athletes. They possess skills that are hard to imagine. They run incredibly fast, hit the ball out of site, make nearly every 3-pointer they take and move across the ice in a way that makes skating look easier than walking. Because of these skills we look up to pro athletes and try to mimic the way they play.
But there is more to being a professional athlete than just performing well during games. Pro athletes have to recognize the fact that people - kids like you, as well as adult sports fans - look up to them as role models.
Community Service: Many leagues, teams and individual athletes help out in their local communities. The NBA is very active in literacy programs, where players go into schools to help young children learn how to read. Also, teams often take part in food and clothing drives. Especially around the holidays, teams will put donation boxes around the stadium to collect goods for people in the community. Major League Baseball does a lot of work with youth organizations, helping to teach children how to play the game.
Charities: Sometimes, teams will donate money to help local or national charities. For instance, each year, the Boston Red Sox donate a portion of their ticket sales to help sick children. The team holds many events throughout the year, such as telethons and base-running clinics on the field at Fenway Park.
Equipment: While pro athletes get to use the best equipment available, many youth leagues and young players don't have the same luxury. Some players donate new sports equipment to neighborhood leagues that need it. One of the players most known for this is Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets. He grew up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and often will donate shoes, basketballs and jerseys to young players in the area.
Many athletes today do much more than play games and win championships. They take part in making their communities a better place. These players are true role models, who use their celebrity status to help as many people as they can.
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