A Letter to Cam Newton
First, let me congratulate you on being the M.V.P. and leading your team to the Super Bowl. I am very sorry that you and the Panthers lost tonight. The pain of losing must be unbearable. I won't act like I understand what it feels like to encounter defeat at such a high stake. And before I say anything else, I want you to know that I wholeheartedly understand that in the heat of the moment we all do things we regret and aren't proud of. All I can do is thank God that we are so much more than a single choice we make, because the Lord knows I've made my share of wrong decisions!
That being said, as a PE teacher, commissioned to inspire and empower the youth of America to win with humility and lose with grace, I cannot stand idly by as you set the example for how to behave when things don't go quite as planned.
You see, my students really like you. They dab throughout my entire class. They rip their shirt open whenever they do something even remotely impressive. They watch you and try to emulate you. So when you step up on the stage completely disengaged, barely speaking in an audible voice, then proceed to walk off mid interview, my kids are watching. Now, I am able to see the pain and frustration of a loss and take your actions with a grain of salt. But most of them cannot look at your situation and see the bigger picture. They just see that when you lose, it is an excuse to disregard politeness and respect. In short, whatever you do, they see it. They are constantly learning from you and eagerly awaiting their next opportunity to be just like Cam.
It's because of this copy-cat behavior that I have an issue with what went down tonight. How you handled yourself is what makes my job hard. In 90 seconds you have more influence over my students' action than I have in 180 days! So how on earth are my middle schoolers going to meet my expectations of respect, grace, and kindness when your actions are telling them it's okay to do the exact opposite?
Again, I understand the pain of defeat and I don't expect you to go out on stage with a big smile, dancing, and making jokes. I also understand that my kids are most likely meaningless to you. They live in a little rural town across the country. And let's be honest, their loyalty ebbs and flows with whoever is popular and killing it on the field. So truthfully, my kids aren't that compelling of a reason for you to think twice about your behavior tonight. But you know who I do challenge you to think about...the countless kids who line up wishing and hoping that their idol will score a touchdown and pick them to be the lucky recipient one of one of your famous touchdown footballs. Like it or not, M.V.P., you are a role model to millions of mini-Cams who copy everything you do! It's just one of those things that comes with the job, especially in the age of social media!
So please, next time you step on the stage/field, think about the powerful influence you have and how an ounce of intention could have a transcending ripple effect!
You really are superman with an amazing super power! But remember, just like Spider-Man's uncle said, "with great power comes great responsibility!"
A Grateful Teacher
P.S. Let me say one more time, I am deeply sorry for your loss tonight and I am confident that this failure will breed great success in the future. I look forward to watching it unfold!
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