Classy athletes deserve more media attention

Little League World Series player Mo'ne Davis exhibited class in dealing with defamation by college baseball player Joey Casselberry

Photo by Creative Commons

Little League World Series player Mo'ne Davis exhibited class in dealing with defamation by college baseball player Joey Casselberry

By Jake Certner, Sports Editor

Sportsmanship, integrity, class. These words are tossed around the world of sports more than almost any other, but what does it truly take to be considered a class-act athlete?

Joey Casselberry, a Bloomburg University baseball player, recently made a rather unsavory comment on Twitter about the female phenomenon in the Little League World Series, Mo’ne Davis. Due to this tweet, Casselberry was kicked off of the team, but it is Davis’ response that is the real example of class.

In an interview with BleacherReport.com, Davis said, “Everyone makes mistakes and I know he would want to take it back. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone deserves a second chance.”

Not only is this an incredible act of maturity on Davis’s part, but it also puts into perspective how one small mistake can so greatly effect an athlete’s career. Especially in this modern age of Twitter and social media, athletes are under more scrutiny than ever. And in this type of climate, they must understand that everything they say and do has an impact.

Davis’s response to Casselberry’s slanderous comments show that she clearly personifies what it means to be a class act. However, the consequences given to Casselberry are a true testament to the impact off-field actions will have on athletes’ lives.

After the incident, Bloomburg University tweeted, “Bloomsburg Univ. is deeply saddened by what was written about #MoneDavis by one of our student-athletes. His words do not represent us.”

Being an athlete at any level is a privilege. As an athlete there is a standard that must be upheld because every action reflects not only on the player, but also on the organization. Casselberry made a choice to write that tweet. Although it may seem like a small issue, his program believed that he no longer had a right to represent them, and I commend Bloomburg University for sticking to their original decision of kicking him off the team.

There is a lesson to be learned here, not just for athletes, but for everyone. Be careful what you say. An entire lifetime of work was ruined in fewer than 140 characters, and with the constant eye of social media watching, the same could happen to anyone.

There are athletes like Davis who consistently uphold the gold standard of sportsmanship and are considered the “white knights” of sports. Names like Peyton Manning, Tim Duncan, Rodger Federer and Derek Jeter all come to mind. This is because these men exemplify what it means to represent a team and act in a professional manner.

However, there is a conflict. While these men receive the highest of honors, it is because they are classy and at the pinnacle of their respective sports. The issue is that the media makes the point of glorifying those who show off because it is what the media wants to show. It is much easier for mediocre athletes to get on TV by doing something dumb than it is to be shown for consistent sportsmanship.

According to a 2014 SportsOnEarth.com, article it is “completely disingenuous to pretend that sportsmanship is the driving force of sports…Showmanship is what we tune in for.”

But what is showmanship and what is disrespectful?

Obviously in Casselberry’s case there is nothing but disgrace, and in Davis’s case there is nothing but pure class. But what about athletes like Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, who play the game the right way but shout during interviews and fight on twitter?

People love to hate Sherman because of his larger than life attitude towards the game and his persona on and off the field. However, there are some people who will tell you that Sherman is just as much of a disgrace as Casselberry is, but there are also others who think of Sherman as nothing more than a passionate athlete.

So what makes a class act? In my opinion, a class act athlete is a player that exemplifies the spirit of athletics, and in every aspect of life, is a role model for the youth. Whether achieved through quiet excellence, or a strong vocal presence, a class act is an athlete that people can look up to.

Mo’ne Davis is a class act. She is an excellent athlete and has been nothing but cordial every time the media has brought her into the limelight. But being a class act is not just about quietly doing what is expected. To be a class act one must be a leader, a good sport and a consistent positive impact for their team both on and off the field.