Never underestimate your potential to impact another person’s life…
For as long as I can remember I have been an absolute die-hard fan of two teams. Sure there were seasons of heightened interest in basketball and hockey, the Raptors and Leafs. There were a few years of rooting for the Tiger Cats and even a year in elementary school where I actually enjoyed NASCAR, but those phases all came and went. Only two teams have ever truly captured my heart and done so for the full 28 years… the Toronto Blue Jays and the Green Bay Packers.
I am sure you can understand the love for the Blue Jays. Growing up in Ontario, playing baseball from a young age, this was destined to happen. I was 5 and 6 years old when the Blue Jays won back-to-back World Series titles, and even though I had to watch Joe Carter’s home run on a VHS recording the next day (don’t worry mom I forgave you a long time ago! Bed times are bed times) I have been a Blue Jay the whole way.
You get that one, it makes sense on paper, but…the Green Bay Packers? Now that one is random. No, I don’t have family in Green Bay and I never lived in Wisconsin. In all honesty I probably couldn’t have told you exactly where Wisconsin was until a few years ago. So why Green Bay? It is actually a great story that I will tell you in a minute…
Growing up as such an invested Blue Jays and Packers fan, I quickly realized the tremendous power that sport has to bring people together, to reach out to people, and to do good for the community.
Sport draws people together of all ages and backgrounds and gives them a common shared interest. It is the reason why I can high five a stranger wearing a Packers sweater and it not be awkward, we have a shared interest.
Sport gives us heroes and while many of them tend to disappoint us off the field, there are still many others who choose to use their high profile to do good.
(Exhibit A: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NgVpnjev79Q)
I believe in the opportunity that sport provides to do good, it’s one of the big reasons why I work for Reach Forth. This belief started when I personally was impacted by a sports hero who chose to use his platform to do good. This brings us back to the Green Bay Packers and I.
Watching football on Sunday afternoons was a fairly regular occurrence for my family until I got hooked and I advanced it into a weekly non-negotiable. Even as a young child I can remember watching the games and being mesmerized by it all, it didn’t seem to matter who was playing. Then one afternoon my fandom was sealed. From what I can remember it was a playoff game pre-game show (you know, one of the 3 hour countdowns) and one of the segments was an interview with Packers defensive end Reggie White. White was aptly nicknamed “The Minister of Defence” for his combination of defensive dominance and his open faith in Jesus. During the interview he spoke about his faith in God and how important it was to him. He talked openly about the life-change that he experienced when he gave his life to Christ and he ended the interview by singing “Amazing Grace.” I was probably only 7 or so at the time but I understood the significance of what he did. It was not very common for a high profile athlete to use a national platform like that, to share something so personal (remember this is pre-Twitter, Youtube, and Tim Tebow). I also recognized the impact that interview had on me. You see, we all need people to look up to, role models, people who inspire us to say “I want to be like them.” Reggie White was a spiritual role model for me. I wanted to be like him. I knew I would never play football (you understand when you see how big that coat was on me), but I wanted a faith like his. I felt like we shared a bond. If Reggie could love Jesus and talk openly about his faith, why couldn’t I? My fandom was Divinely appointed from that day forward and my 7 year old heart was inspired.
I never met Reggie White but he had a tremendous influence on my faith at a very early age. It’s amazing isn’t it, how someone so distant can impact you so significantly? You never know who may be watching your life.
Never underestimate your potential to influence another person’s life…