Making a difference beyond the box


Bryce Frederick, Sports Editor

In today’s society, whether they deserve it or not, professional athletes are extremely prominent. With their platform comes an overwhelming sense of influence towards society. How they carry themselves both on and off the field of play, whether it be giving back to others, or their sense of personal decorum, affects societal perception.

These changes and impacts include awareness through professional, league-wide initiatives, such as the National Football League’s “My Cause, My Cleats” campaign, during which players customize their footwear to represent any personal charity or cause. Initiatives can also be taken through actions of individual players, such as New York Giants wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who started Project 375, educating and advocating for mental illnesses.

In our school house, our athletic program works in a similar way. Our programs and athletes are motivated by specific causes and commonalities. Examples are right under our noses. Women’s basketball recently held another successful Think Pink game Jan. 12, donating proceeds to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Over the fall, the baseball program sent five large boxes of old equipment down to Houston, Texas for Hurricane Harvey victims who lost their own equipment in the destruction. We all have the ability to make positive change.

Additionally, the more prominent athletes are well known throughout our halls and classes. As a whole, I believe that if the athletic programs come together with a common goal or standard, it has the ability to radiate through the school house and be incredibly impactful.

Beginning last year, our athletic program has preached and modeled an ‘Above the Line’ mindset and culture, formulated by Ohio State University football coach Urban Meyer and Focus Three creator Brian Kight. Meyer and Kight claim that an event, combined with our response to said event, creates an outcome, and that outcome is either above or below the line that separates winners and losers, or as he writes, “victors and victims.” A message so worth instilling, that director of athletics Rich Reed engraved it into his email signature.

In wake of the recent death of our classmate, that ‘Above the Line’ standard must come to fruition. Morale throughout the building took a hit after we got back from winter break, and personally, it really got to me. What could I have done to help? How can we prevent this again?

It elucidated to me, as cliché as it sounds, that you never know what anyone else is going through. As an athlete with a platform, it has become pivotal for me to change the way I walk the halls, and I am calling for others to join me. Throw someone you have never met a compliment about what they are wearing. Share a smile and a good morning. Stick out your hand for a high five or a fist bump.

Sounds crazy, right? Maybe even embarrassing. But it is what we owe others. The right choices aren’t always the most popular ones, or the easiest.

Just because you and I are athletes, does not make us better than anyone else around us, but it does give us a spotlight to lead.

There has been a tragic event. Now, we need an overwhelmingly positive response to yield an outcome that uplifts the entire school house and each other.