From the basketball courts of inner cities to the makeshift baseball fields in country pastures, the influence of professional athletes runs deep.
Kids imitate their homerun trots, jump shots, and touchdown celebrations. They also imitate their swagger, trash talk, and attitude of entitlement. No, athletes are not ‘technically’ paid to be role models, but it sure is nice when a few of them show the character traits I as a father would want my kids to see.
I personally believe that most pro athletes are as decent as most people we meet. They screw up and get things right just like the rest of us. The media is much better at showing us the spoiled malcontents over the well-adjusted citizens, but this week they let one slip through.
Just up the road from me in Kansas City, there was yet another story about a massive pro athlete’s salary. Royal’s pitcher, Gil Meche, is entering the 5th year of a his 5-year, $55 million contract. According to his contract, most of the money ($12 million) is due this year.
I’m a sports nut and I’m used to athletes making noise in the final year of their contracts. They want extensions, more money, to be traded… blah, blah. I’m not used to this type of noise though. Meche announced that he is retiring because he doesn’t feel like he is living up to his end of the contract!
“When I signed my contract, my main goal was to earn it,” Meche said. “Once I started to realize I wasn’t earning my money, I felt bad. I was making a crazy amount of money for not even pitching. Honestly, I didn’t feel like I deserved it. I didn’t want to have those feelings again.”
Instead of coasting through the final year and walking away with $12 million more, Meche is taking the road less traveled and honoring his integrity. What grounds is he making this decision on?
“This isn’t about being a hero — that’s not even close to what it’s about,” Meche said.
“It’s just me getting back to a point in my life where I’m comfortable. Making that amount of money from a team that’s already given me over $40 million for my life and for my kids, it just wasn’t the right thing to do.”
“I want to get back to what I remember as a kid, the way of life here in Louisiana.”
Did you pick up the clues? “…back to a point in my life…” “…back to what I remember…”
No, this isn’t about going back so much as it is going toward the life he desires. Meche is moving toward his purposeful vision and realizes that NOW, not later, is the time to do that. His level of gratitude for what he’s been given is too great for him to be selfish. After all, what’s one more year to rake in $12 million? When you’re fighting the life you desire, it could be forever.
And please, don’t get caught up in the numbers. His decision is the same as anyone else. What do you want your life to look like and does it mean enough to you to take uncommon action?
Be your best.