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Why Character ‘On and Off the Field’ Matters in Athlete Role Models

Photo by Ameer Basheer via Unsplash

Why Character ‘On and Off the Field’ Matters in Athlete Role Models

By Movieguide® Contributor

Dr. Joe Hoedel is sharing what sports fans should look for in their athlete role models—not idolizing them for their championships and trophies but rather admiring their character.

“As Americans, we tend to pay attention to the scandals in sports,” Hoedel said.  “However, there are positive role models in sports who can and do inspire us to greatness in our own lives.”

“I want to inspire people, and I want them to understand what made them great on and off the field,” he added in an interview with WGN News. “We have this ability to look up to athletes a lot. But I want to change the reason why we look up to athletes — it’s their character both on and off the field.”

He shared a few stories about how world-famous athletes responded to challenges in their personal lives that would later impact their athletic careers.

When Cassius Clay was a kid, his bike was stolen. He went around town saying he would “whoop” whoever stole his bike, but a police officer asked him, “Son, do you even know how to fight?”

That moment inspired Clay, who would later be known as Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest boxers in history.

Many young swimmers look up to 23-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps.

“He was bullied as a child,” Hoedel said. “He was diagnosed with ADHD. He also had these really big ears and he had big feet. He was constantly teased and made fun of and he just really struggled as a child. He had all this crazy, chaotic energy. And what he found is that when he got into swimming he could direct his energy to down and back. It was just one rectangle that he had to deal with. He found that he could channel his anger and his energy into becoming the greatest Olympian.”

Hoedel’s “Sports Role Models: Book 1” contains “34 inspiring stories of amazing athletes. Each chapter is a short (3-5 page) engaging story about an athlete or coach who exemplifies a positive character trait.”

Movieguide® previously reported on another inspiring athlete:

Olympic Champion and now World Athlete of the Year, Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, discussed what it took to break records and become a champion.  

“It means absolutely everything,” McLaughlin-Levrone stated after she received the award. “I’m so grateful for the opportunity. It has been an unreal season and I’m really grateful that it has culminated in this to cap it all off.” 

However, the highlight of her year was winning the world title in world record time all while in the US.  

“It meant so much, especially after Tokyo and not being able to have family and friends there,” she stated. “Being able to have that moment on home soil and have all of them there – that was the icing on the cake for me. That was the most special part of the moment for sure.”  

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Our small team works tirelessly to provide resources to protect families from harmful media, reviewing 415 movies/shows and writing 3,626 uplifting articles this year. We believe that the gospel can transform entertainment. That’s why we emphasize positive and faith-filled articles and entertainment news, and release hundreds of Christian movie reviews to the public, for free. No paywalls, just trusted, biblically sound content to bless you and your family. Online, Movieguide is the closest thing to a biblical entertainment expert at your fingertips. As a reader-funded operation, we welcome any and all contributions – so if you can, please give something. It won’t take more than 52 seconds (we timed it for you). Thank you.


4000+ Faith Based Articles and Movie Reviews – Will you Support Us?

Our small team works tirelessly to provide resources to protect families from harmful media, reviewing 415 movies/shows and writing 3,626 uplifting articles this year. We believe that the gospel can transform entertainment. That’s why we emphasize positive and faith-filled articles and entertainment news, and release hundreds of Christian movie reviews to the public, for free. No paywalls, just trusted, biblically sound content to bless you and your family. Online, Movieguide is the closest thing to a biblical entertainment expert at your fingertips. As a reader-funded operation, we welcome any and all contributions – so if you can, please give something. It won’t take more than 52 seconds (we timed it for you). Thank you.

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