An open letter to professional athletes
Don’t do drugs.
Don’t cheat. Don’t cheat your team, your family, your friends.
Don’t gamble. Don’t gamble your career, your future, your life.
You are living the dream, making a living out of doing what you love. Don’t take that for granted. Look around at the millions of kids playing sport in the hope that one day they can be like you. Now look at the many millions on the ‘scrap heap’ that never got the chance to get where you’re at and imagine what they would have given to swap places.
I hear the reasons for drugs, I get the pressure you’re under to perform week to week and the long seasons can be gruelling. I get you love the game and you would do what it takes to get fit to play but have you really considered all of the risks?
Have you thought about what happens if you get caught? Six weeks, 12 weeks or even 12 months on the sideline stinks, no athlete wants to sit out a game let alone a season, but surely that’s better than a lifetime? And what sort of life will you be living – will there be side effects five, ten years from now?
Let’s face it, a professional career in sport isn’t a long one. Away from the pitch you will need to make a life for yourself, a life with family, friends and you have the potential to continue to do whatever you dream. Don’t squander that.
You are a role model. Whether you know it or not there are kids everywhere taking to the field to be just like you. You know the feeling, you were that kid, you had that idol. Remember? Are you being the sort of person you looked up to?
You get paid a lot of money to play the game you love but your pay is short term, can you afford to make it shorter
Sport is quintessential to Australia. We are a nation full of pride and passion. Somewhere down the way though we seem to have lost the meaning of what it was to ‘play’…play for the love of the game. Not the corporates, not the endorsements, not the name on the front of the jersey, but to do the best for the name on the back.
What you do day to day should be for the love of it. Don’t be driven by money. Don’t be driven by other’s expectations. Be driven by the natural thrill of the chase. The knowing that you have given it all and the dedication, long hours, endless trainings and strict diets have all been worth it.
Sport has taken a huge hit in recent months and it really is sad as a fan to see a small few ruin it for the rest of you, particularly for those slogging it out and not getting paid a whole lot for it.
I hope that one day in the near future I can barrack again knowing that what I see is what I get and my kids will get to grow up to be just like you.