The importance of athletics to American culture is engrained in our minds from very early on. At a young age, children are placed into sports where they form a group of friends, develop lifelong skills, and learn the importance of physical fitness. As athletics become central to our lives and pivotal to our personal identities, it is unsurprising that children look to their favorite professional athletes as role models. Unfortunately, as Jake Kepple of Youth Pastor at First Baptist Church explains, this leads young children to follow the example of “sports heroes” who have found success by breaking the rules. Kepple appeared recently on WINA’s Best Seat In The House program.
Kepple highlights the use of steroids in professional baseball as a case of top athletes cheating the system. “I think those guys have cheated outright, but because they’ve been able to get away with it for so long, and it’s worked for so long, and kids see that, and so in terms of the steroids and the drug abuse and that kind of thing, if they think they can get away with it, they’re going to try, because the reward is really high, in essence, but the penalty is relatively low in comparison right now”. These are the examples being set for young athletes today. They are being shown that if they ever hope to reach the level of success of Alex Rodriguez or Ryan Braun, this is the road they must follow.
Given the number of children involved in athletics and how impressionable they are at a young age, Kepple suggest that, “it’s of the utmost importance that we have people with high character, high integrity, leading these young people into and through their athletic careers”. It is the duty of both coaches and professional athletes to set an example for kids that emphasizes integrity and character, because as John Wooden puts it, “Talent will get you to the top, but character will keep you there”.
To hear the full interview with Jake Kepple, check the podcast section of WINA.com under The Best Seat In The House.