It’s Wednesday night and I decide to meet up with a friend after work to enjoy happy hour. While I am patiently awaiting my cider and crawfish po boy, I look up and see an inaudible Jameis Winston, Florida State’s Quarterback and Heisman trophy winner, at a press conference on ESPN. After being somewhat knowledgeable of his past accolades and shortcomings, I say aloud, “Now, what the hell did he do this time?”
If you haven’t heard, On September 17th, Winston was suspended for the first half of the FSU v. Clemson game for shouting obscenities based on a popular internet meme while on top of a table in FSU’s Student Union. The incident ultimately resulted in him having to sit out the entire game against Clemson. This incident not only suspended him from a pretty good game, it also added another blemish to his young reputation.
Fortunately, I am not going to use this post to scrutinize or further analyze his actions specifically, however, I will use this incident to discuss student athletes and other student leaders who are in the spotlight to influence others.
Winston is a student athlete and plenty times many outsiders (and insiders) forget about the “student” part; however, undeniably, he is indeed a college student. The frontal lobe is a part of the brain that helps us decipher between good and bad decisions. It also gives us the ability to recognize how future consequences result from current actions. If it is true that the frontal lobe does not fully develop until approximately around the age of 25, then I am completely okay with saying that college students do dumb things. I was a college student – twice. My career revolves around college students. I did a few dumb things in college and sometimes, I still do (please note that I am roughly 2 months away from turning 25).
Going to undergraduate institution with a D-1 football team and graduate school at an institution that is very well known for their football team, I am well aware of the seemingly unequal perks and privileges that student athletes acquire. Privileges such as (but not limited to) nicer facilities, separate eating facilities, specialized and individualized tutoring schedules. There are also scholarships, academic and conduct privileges (even if people don’t want to admit the latter). However, along with those privileges comes popularity. And with that brings a sometimes unwanted microscope. It’s almost like punishment for being good at what you do. It’s the same concept as being a celebrity, politician, or anyone who is involuntarily or voluntarily subjected to the spotlight. Everybody wants to hold your actions up to the microscope to dissect everything you do when truthfully, footage from many people’s homes is worthy enough to be placed on TMZ. But don’t get it twisted, I’m definitely not defending the actions of Jameis Winston. The truth of the matter is when you are blessed with a talent as your purpose in life that is so colossal that it provides you the opportunity for people to admire you, you must also accept that with that talent or ability comes responsibility. No one is perfect but why not use that spotlight to attempt to live a life of integrity and good character in order to positively influence the many who aspire to be like you?
Yes, being a student athlete (or any other leadership position on campus that calls for great popularity) may result in feeling like your life is in a fish bowl. But to whom much is given much is required.
And to all of my young and dumb college students out there, even though your frontal lobe may not be fully developed, it’s never too early to start making good choices now that will forever affect your future later. I remember having a long conversation with a wise man by the name of Dean Holloway after I graduated with my bachelor’s degree and was weeks away from moving to another state to further my education in graduate school. Since that was 2 years ago, I really don’t remember much from that conversation but I do remember one sole piece of advice – “Protect your name because your name is your brand”. Take that frontal lobe.