In these modern times engaging in individual or team competitive sports is an induction into the world of celebrities. A world in which many, if not all sports personalities are not fully equipped to handle as in the case where lives have been lost or utterly destroyed as a result of the fame. Becoming a celebrity comes with the constant need to portray a certain image which over time blurs the line between fiction and reality. Therefore, it is essential that sport personalities are armed with ways to cope with the celebrity status that comes with participation in this lifestyle.
First is the understanding that the media will make public their engagements whether in the field or in their private lives. This exposure can work for or against the sports celebrity since the media will depict only what works in their favor. They should be aware that they have become ambassadors not only in the field but also national representatives and their pursuits can propel them further or sink their ship prematurely. The media often goes for the glamorous and what sells and will thus go for those details attractive to their readers. This intrusion often leads them to create particular images which the sportsmen and women have fallen for and ended up as media created celebrities. In the long run an ostentatious life is adopted marked by acquisition of high-end car models, movement into classy addresses, hiring of security personnel and retreating from what they may perceive as an ordinary life.
One way to tilt the fame to work in favor of the celebrity is championing for the works they believe in as seen with Olympic medalist and record holder Eliud Kipchoge among others who dedicate their lives to mentor upcoming Sportsperson. Such activities ensure connection with the ordinary citizenship and provide welcome checks against the high vaulted perception of the celebrity status.
In some instances, the celebrities have found themselves on the wrong side of the law. They should be carefully guided to know that if they break the law their achievements can be disregarded and their time in the spotlight snuffed out. The celebrity status also puts a lot of pressure and in the quest to maintain acquired lifestyles one may end up using drugs to enhance future victory.
Further it should be noted that fame is fleeting. It is therefore not a ticket to treat other people inconsiderately. When it comes to their managers and support base, the celebrities should be wary not to bite the hand that feeds them. Treating everyone with respect and kindness is a legacy that will outlive them beyond the medals and records. These records can be broken by other Sportsperson but a legacy is lasting.
In addition, the sports personalities should consider investing their winnings in spaces that will guarantee them a comfortable and manageable lifestyle even after retirement. Living life on the fast lane is thrilling but certainly tragic in later years when endorsements and campaigns are not forthcoming.
The pressure to continuously perform exceptionally in the field is guaranteed to weigh them down but they should keep in mind they are still human. Gracing screens, magazine covers and exclusive interviews does not make them superhuman. Rest and time away from the chaos of the celebrity lifestyle is not a weakness. There is thus a need to encourage our sports persons to come out and seek help when it gets overwhelming.
Sportspersons are further encouraged to surround themselves with good managers and networks that share in their values and systems of belief. This makes it easier for them to stand firm even under scrutiny. Escaping into drugs and other substances likely to be abused are temporary escape routes but not the cure to survive the pressures of the celebrity status. The celebrity spotlight is manageable within a confine of upholding personal values, self-control and affiliation with spaces which empower the sportspersons. Managers, sponsors and promoters together with family members are also called upon to provide mentorship and guidance for the overall success of the sportspersons.
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Revd. Dr. James N. Mbugua (PhD)