As sports fans living in the digital age we are constantly bombarded with stories of athletes doing bad things. One can easily conclude in their own mind when athletes are not playing their respective sports, they are doing something illegal. Our culture tends to elevate professional athletes to a level of celebrity, almost heroic status. This writer completely disagrees with that. Athletes are just that, athletes. However, sometimes we come across a story that can change our perception. Ichiro’s actions this past week did just that.
Ichiro’s home country suffered a devastating earthquake resulting in a destructive tsunami. If that wasn’t enough, the only nation to ever suffer the effects of nuclear weapons is dealing with a nuclear disaster on the level of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island. Ichiro, one of the best hitters ever and a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee, donated 100 million yen for relief efforts. To me, in a way, that is heroic.
Many professional, millionaire athletes, have foundations and charity organizations. Some I suspect do it because they may feel they are expected to. Some, genuinely care and want to give back, (if you don’t know already, look into what the Yankees Nick Swisher does.) Ichiro’s donation speaks volumes about the man’s character. His actions are more “American” than I think anyone, including Ichiro, may realize. Through Ichiro’s hard work he has earned these millions of dollars. His compassion for his fellow man is, to me, what America is about. We tend to pull together when others are in need. This transplanted Japanese son demonstrated what it is to be American.
Kudos to Ichiro. Our thoughts, prayers, and sympathy to the Japanese people.