What Happened to Humility in Sports?

Samantha Cooke@sportycookieCorrespondent IJune 30, 2009

ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 14:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers moves the ball against the Orlando Magic in Game Five of the 2009 NBA Finals on June 14, 2009 at Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida. The Lakers won 99-86.  NOTE TO USER:  User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

I learned the biggest life lesson from a five-year-old gymnast. Little Kiley was trying a trick for the first time. She went backwards over a barrel to perform an assisted bridge kickover.

It took Kiley a few times, but eventually she got the trick by herself. Beaming from ear to ear, Kiley got her mom to come in the gym so she could show off. Then, she showed her older gymnast sisters.

Kiley, an aspiring kindergarten gymnast, showed me the reason I love sports. She was truly excited over a small trick. 

Kiley has dreams of going to the Olympics, but more realistic dreams of doing gymnastics until she graduates high school. Then, she will go on to college and achieve her dreams.

What happened to humility? It is scary to think that children today do not have a chance to be children. Athletes try to grow up too fast and live in the fast lane.

Most athletes turn in to Kobe or even Eli Manning, whose heads are too big for the league.

We need to bring back happiness to children and sports today. They only think of sports for the fame and money.

Take the next big thing, baseball's Bryce Harper, who decided to forgo his final two years of high school to play professional baseball. Yes, he is earning his GED and trying to enroll in a junior college this fall, but come on, let him be a kid.

You only have one high school experience. Those four short years are filled with homecomings, football games, prom, graduation, friends, and being part of a team.

It is not about becoming "the next big thing." Even LeBron James finished high school. 

Parents are trying to cash in on their children. Harper has the talent to make it in the big leagues, but let him do it on his terms. He has no idea what it means to be a team player or a teenager.

Everyone is so focused on making the most possible money that they will risk anything to do it. It is hard to change children's minds when they see JaMarcus Russell hold out for more money or Alex Rodriguez making more in a season than some families will see in their lifetime.

What happened to playing a game for the love and not the money?

I have seen some amazing athletes, but only a handful "do the right thing." The perfect example of this is Tim Tebow.

Tebow never takes anything for granted. He cannot believe his life is the way it is and understands it can be taken away at any moment. That is why he constantly thanks his family and God for taking him this far.

No one can deny Tebow would not do well in the pros if he left college early. He would easily have been the top pick in the draft this year. 

Tebow decided to be the man with a plan and finish college. After all, what would he fall back on?

Think about these kids, including LeBron and Harper. What if some random person hits them in the wrong way? What if LeBron or Harper couldn't play sports again? What would they fall back on?

Nothing. LeBron is in a slightly better position because he has the money he has already earned and the endorsements. If Harper goes to the minors, gets hurt, and has to quit baseball, he does not even have a high school diploma to fall back on.

Let kids be kids. We need to take athletes off these high pedestals and treat them like normal people.

Nothing is greater than winning a championship or even getting a new skill, but at what cost? Bring back the humility and joy in sports. Be proud that you threw a touchdown and your team won; not that you need more money or you will not go to training camp for one of the last place teams in the league.

Play sports for the joy, not the money. Look at the smile on Kiley's face and remember the joy you got as a child from the simplest of things.

While we cannot change the world or the athletes, I ask one thing of people: Please encourage good role models for your kids, like Tim Tebow. Hopefully, we can still change the future.