Grande’s Ramblings: Freedom Of Speech, Not Freedom From Consequences and Finding Positive Role Models In Sports

Article by, Ian Grande

It is really easy to get sucked into a negative spiral these days. Whether I’m watching the news or scouring social media, it seems like everything is just doom and gloom.

The latest issue that everyone seems to be fixated on is the National Anthem protests. I have some quick thoughts on that topic but I want to focus a majority of this article on highlighting some of the positive role models in the sporting world.

Freedom of speech, not freedom from consequences

NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem is a very polarizing issue. There are a lot of people who feel that kneeling during the National Anthem is disrespectful. There are also alot of other people who think this is a very good method of protest.

The first amendment protects you from getting arrested for speaking out/assembling in public. However, it is important to note that it does not protect you from getting fired by your employer. Nor does it protect you from backlash from people who disagree with what you are saying or doing.

I personally don’t view this as a “freedom of speech” issue. First, no football players have been arrested for kneeling during the anthem. Secondly, this isn’t taking place on public property. The NFL teams either own or rent the stadium, making it private property. If an NFL owner wanted to fire a player for kneeling during the national anthem they have the right to do so (hasn’t happened).

Let’s focus our attention on the positive role models in the sporting world

I think it is important to remember that there are a lot of athletes that are trying to make a positive impact on the country. The following list references some of the athletes that are excellent role models for young student athletes to follow. Many of these athletes are outspoken about their faith and passionate about sharing their story with others:

Drew Brees: One of the NFL’s all-time great quarterbacks. Brees has been outspoken throughout his entire career about supporting troops as well as his relationship with the Lord.

Carson Wentz: It is very easy to pull for the former Bison standout. Carson is an outspoken Christian who is revered by all of his teammates for his incredibly strong character. Wentz is also a budding superstar quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Tim Tebow: Tebow has been a positive role model for millions of people since his Heisman trophy winning days at University of Florida. Tebow is an outspoken Christian who was unfairly ridiculed by many for his famous touchdown celebration (taking a knee while thanking God). He continues to draw large crowds while pursuing his professional baseball career.

Benjamin Watson: The Baltimore Raven tight end has been an outspoken Christian and someone who has attempted to offer solutions to the issues that the country faces.

Bubba Watson: The former Masters Champion doesn’t shy away from his faith. He also doesn’t shy away from donating to special causes. He has raised millions with his signature pink driver.

JJ Watt: The imposing defensive lineman helped raise over $37,000,000 for Hurricane Harvey victims.

NHL Players: Full disclosure, hockey is and has always been my favorite sport. I learned a ton of very valuable life lessons during my time playing and coaching the sport.

One of the primary lessons that can be learned from following hockey is that there is no “I” in team. You will never hear an NHL player blast a teammate or coach in a post-game interview.

You will routinely hear NHL players after a win use phrases like “we played well”. Those same players will say “I need to play better” after a loss. Lots of excellent life lessons for young student athletes can be learned by following the NHL.

One of my favorite interviews was Henrik Zetterberg (captain of the Detroit Red Wings) getting interviewed after the Red Wings got knocked out of the playoffs. He was obviously frustrated but said, “We’ve gotta produce more, including me. With the ice time I get, I have to do more.” He didn’t throw his teammates under the bus, he didn’t blame his coach, he led from the front. See video: Zetterberg Interveiw

I also enjoy watching how positive former players like Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr, and Mario Lemieux (three of the greatest players of all-time) are. All three are very humble and quick to deflect attention onto other former players and onto the current crop of players. See video: Gretzky, Orr, Lemieux Interview

I’ve always been impressed with how this list of athletes carries themselves on and off the field/ice. They are able to do so many incredible things with the platforms that they have. All of them are gracious and understand how important it is to be a positive role model. That is what I love about sports.

Closing Statement

It is really easy to get caught up in all of the negativity swirling around. Just remember that there is far more good out there than evil, even if that’s not how it is portrayed in the media.

As far as athletics goes, I choose to support athletes that stand for something positive, life is much more enjoyable that way.

*Ian Grande is the Editor of the Stanley Gazette. If you have any comments or concerns please email

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