HOW DO SPORTING HEROES MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO CHILDREN?
Children tend to learn through imitation. If you’ve ever been embarrassed by a child repeating something you’ve said in private, then you’ll understand this all too well. When it comes to sport, the same rule applies. If your child’s favourite football player spends time performing outrageous tricks, then the chances are good that those tricks will be emulated in the garden at the next opportunity. Let’s take a closer look at the role sports stars can play in shaping attitudes among kids.
How role models can change lives
If you’re observing the world as a child, then you might make all kinds of misguided assumptions about which kinds of people are entitled to participate in which kinds of activity. If you’re a five-year-old girl, then seeing the success (and failures) of the Lionesses might persuade you that football is something you can take seriously.
Specific parts of the country might celebrate the success of locally-raised sporting heroes. This is a good thing. It shows that, no matter your background, there’s a route forward. Naturally, some sports are more meritocratic than others. Taking up tennis or showjumping requires access to a tennis court (or a horse). But football is something that everyone can get into. Academy products in Premier League football teams, like Trent Alexander-Arnold, tend to be fan favourites, because they have a closer connection to the club and its supporters.
What about non-sporting inspiration?
Even if you’re not naturally sporty, you might recognise other attributes in your favourite stars that you can apply to your schoolwork or artistic pursuits. Noticing that elite performers commit huge amounts of time and energy to their chosen field might inspire kids to be similarly devoted to their own interests.
Maintaining a good public image
One of the major criticisms levelled at the media in the UK is that it enjoys tearing down footballers. Unflattering photographs of a footballer drunkenly falling out of a nightclub might be published, which tends to be unfair – since many men in their youth will have done the same thing, even without endless wealth and flattery coming into the equation.
Still, it’s fair to say that those being worshipped by children have a moral duty to behave themselves, both on and off the field. Swearing at the linesman is something to be avoided, even if he has made a terrible error!