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The Value of Role Models in Youth Sports

According to The Aspen Institute, approximately 55% of children between the ages of six and twelve participate in team sports. This fact, coupled with the proliferation of sports coverage in the media demonstrates the strong impact that athletes could have on children. Children grow to emulate the athletes they watch on TV. As a former little leaguer, I can attest to this. Almost every Saturday morning, I could be found replicating each New York Yankees' batting stance (1-9) from my living room.

However, sports can teach children a ton of skills that go way beyond the baseball diamond or basketball court. Youth sports teach children how to grow self-confidence, work in a team environment and become a leader. Children are easily impressionable and professional athletes are capable of teaching students the value of hard work and determination regardless of what career path they follow. 

Professional athletes have become increasingly better role models over the years. NBA basketball players LeBron James and Kevin Durant have leveraged their massive followings in order to influence kids. On July 30th, LeBron James announced that he was opening I Promise School, a school dedicated towards providing at-risk students in Akron, Ohio with a state-of-the-art learning facility and free tuition to The University of Akron.

Former Texas Longhorn, Kevin Durant, has recently followed his lead by announcing the opening of The Durant Center, an after-school facility designed in order to provide scholarships, tutoring, emotional and financial support to students in his home town Prince George's County, Maryland.

While these athletes gave up over seven years of a college education to pursue their dreams of an NBA career, they are emphasizing the value of education to kids. If kids can learn from athletes like them, the world of sports will continue to have an influential role in molding the future of America.