“What you are as a person is far more important than what you are as a basketball player.” said legendary basketball coach John Wooden in order to educate sports players on the power they hold. Though Cam Newton is a professional football player, this quote still rings true. When Newton left the press conference after a tough Superbowl loss to the Denver Broncos, he told the world what kind of person he was in that moment; a sore loser.
The team Newton plays for, the Carolina Panthers, have never won a Superbowl. They are one of only four teams that have never completed the feat. According to the National Football League, the Panther’s 14 game-winning streak was the longest in franchise history. There was so much excitement behind the team that the touchdown celebrations were gaining national attention. All over the country celebrities, political figures and even other famous sports figures were dabbing. The Panthers clearly had a sizable following that wanted them to go all the way.
To say that Newton and the Carolina Panthers had a good season is an understatement. However, as all good things must, it ended. The controversy came when a very boisterous quarterback who was humiliating NFL defenses all season cut out on the media after the Superbowl loss. What kind message does this send to children who look up to Newton? It’s okay to be a sore loser.
It’s okay to dance, brag and boast when everything is going well and your team is winning, but at the first taste of a tough loss, you can pout like a child. Win like a man; lose like a man, Cam. Nobody expects you to be upbeat and happy after a loss in the Superbowl, especially after the type of seasonthe team had. However, you are a paid professional who signed a five year, $103.8 million contract with the Carolina Panthers, including a $22.5 million signing bonus, $60 millionguaranteed and an average annual salary of $20.7 million, according to ESPN. You are paid extremely well, maybe even overpaid according to some analysts; so show a little humility.
Now, I am not without sympathy for Cam. As a competitive college basketball player myself, I know what a tough loss feels like. A very small percentage of people in the world get to play competitive college sports, much less professional. Saying this to say, most of the audience who were watching the Superbowl have no idea what a loss on that level feels like. The emotions that the winners and losers feel is something we cannot imagine. On top of that, the media has to do the ugly job of asking questions like, “How do you feel knowing you came all this way and end the game in this manner?”
Cam Newton and other athletes at the professional level have to deal with things that areexasperating, the media being just one of them. We all remember how Marshawn Lynch would deal with the postgame antics of the media by giving one word responses or repeating the same answer.
We cannot act as if what Cam Newton did was completely unheard of, yet we cannot excuse it either. He is setting an example for our children who dream of being in his place one day. Winning and losing are the outcomes in the game of football, so our professional athletes must give a respectable reaction in either circumstance. If not for yourself, for our youth. Define your own success.