High Performance Athletes’ Influence on Youth
After the 2012 London Olympics, my son, who was 5 years old at the time, started getting interested in diving. The performance of Alexandre Despatie during the Games, combined with his highly mediatized popularity, undoubtedly influenced my son’s interest for this sport. This athlete’s influence on youth is one example amongst many. In this case, we can definitely speak of a positive influence, since my son started practicing diving as a consequence. But what happens if the influence tends to be on the negative side?
For example, let’s take the case of a star player of the Washington Capitals, whose use of chewing tobacco was mentioned in a magazine. Apparently, the number of young people using chewing tobacco amongst minor hockey leagues has grown enough that Hockey Canada has started raising awareness to the dangers of chewing tobacco.
Another type of influence that many athletes have over the youth goes through their endorsement of various not so “healthy” products: energy drinks, fast-food chains or even some specific foods. Teenagers’ fast-food consumption rate is very alarming, and not on the verge of decreasing. It’s a safe bet to say that seeing some of their favorite athletes associate with these products isn’t contributing to change that tendency.
On another note, the active presence of some professional athletes on social media, making them available almost instantly and on a daily basis, presents younger people with some dubious behaviors. Amongst these, let’s take the case of the racing driver who, in the middle of a race, took and shared a picture of himself. Or let’s cite the football player who was tweeting live during the Super Bowl. These are undeniably inappropriate behaviors which we would not want our youth to adopt.
On a more positive note, this year in Sochi, we had the chance to witness, extraordinary feats and performances from our Canadian athletes. These will definitely have a favorable influence on our youth. However, every week, after diving practice, my son asks me if we can stop at his favorite fast-food restaurant. Since nobody is perfect (fortunately!), we sometimes go grab a bite.
Author: Sacha Vaillancourt, Client Executive