Money Smart Athlete Blog

How to become a socially responsible athlete

By Despina Demetriou, Contributor

Sense of duty, respect for fellow human beings, morality, and discipline are what create a socially responsible person. Social responsibility concerns individuals when it is exercised by a single person, while it becomes collective when it pertains to groups of people such as companies or sports teams. The popularity that athletes enjoy due to their status as public figures gives them the opportunity to influence the behaviour of many of their fans through public announcements and various forms of promotional activities.

According to a social media analytics firm, Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the most famous football players in the world can earn more than US$1.5 million per Instagram post. Businesses pay such sums of money to celebrities, many of them being athletes, as an investment on the power of these personalities to affect the purchasing habits of their large audiences. Given that athletes can affect consumption patterns, likewise they can be capable of influencing social behavior. With this in mind, it can be stated that it is paramount for an athlete to be socially responsible and act as a role model for society. As such they can benefit the whole, and become a beacon for a healthy, moral and socially conscious lifestyle.

A socially responsible person is one who is conscious about fulfilling their civic duties and whose actions positively affect society. Volunteering, blood donations, and advocating for issues that affect society such as racism, sexism, inequality, and poverty, are among causes that anyone and everyone can raise their voice about to effect positive change. An athlete can become socially responsible, not only by “acting” but also through simple endorsements and messages towards the public. For example, the celebrated basketball player Giannis Antetokounmpo sent a message to his Greek fans through twitter before a public appearance which was set for August 3rd 2021 in Sepolia — his boyhood neighbourhood — reminding and asking everyone to wear a protective mask due to the situation with the global pandemic. Even such a seemingly trivial move, is what sets apart an athlete from an athlete-role model.

Another excellent example of a socially responsible athlete, is English footballer Marcus Rashford, who campaigned for underprivileged kids in England numerous times to save their free meals which were about to be cut from the government’s budget. Athletes must keep up with current affairs and funnel their focus on pressing issues. For instance, climate change is on top of the agenda right now and therefore a socially responsible athlete can try and raise awareness among their fans and followers, urging them at the same time to do their part to curb this problem. In short, athletes can fight in different ways and for different causes, always with the common good in mind.

Finally, respect for diversity and public expression in favour of the underprivileged or even practical help in support of the poor are among the most common actions taken by socially responsible athletes who often donate money to charity and openly speak in favour of human rights for all and against any kind of discrimination against others. The ethical or ideological theory of athlete social responsibility assumes that athletes as individuals who are viewed by people as role models, have an obligation to society as a whole to be socially responsible and thus achieve meaningful, positive social change.

All in all, athletes are in the perfect position to influence people and gently push them towards doing what is right. Climate change, inequality, poverty, racism and sexism are all noble causes that athletes can easily participate in without becoming too controversial. Of course, athletes can opt out and look the other way on all these issues, however, given the influence they exercise over society, if they care about their fellow human beings and the common good, they must strive to be socially responsible, charitable and lead by example.

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