Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Where have all the good guys gone? Houston, apparently.

It isn’t news when pro athletes visit children’s hospitals. It happens all the time. It’s a win-win for everyone involved and, regardless of the reason for the visit, a lot of good can come out of it.

But, you don’t often hear about the visits because we’ve become cynical about the player’s motivations.

Still, every so often a story comes along that makes you realize that there are a lot of decent people that play sports for a living—we just tend to hear about the idiots.

You don’t play pro soccer in North America for the money or the glory. You play it out of love and pride. Craig Waibel likely makes a comfortable living, but he isn’t wealthy. He’s probably recognized in the supermarket from time to time, but he isn’t famous. To a guy like Waibel, a championship medal is the symbol of everything he worked for as an athlete.

It’s truly stunning to think that he would give it up for anything—even a dying boy.

When Waibel gave the medal to the young boy, I’m sure he didn’t do it so that a guy like me could draw attention to him. But, I’m going to anyway because it’s nice to know that there are still some good guys out there.


1 comment:

Andrew Bucholtz said...

Amazing story: thanks for drawing attention to it. In some ways, I think athletes in lower-profile sports like MLS or the CFL are a lot more willing to do this sort of meaningful outreach, as they don't have the big egos or money getting in the way. I know the TFC guys have regular fan outreach events, and the CFL's always been great that way: when I was in high school back in B.C., we had Damon Allen stop by to chat with a bunch of us athletes at one point, which was amazing, and about five or six of the other Lions came by to talk at a school assembly another day. Jason Clermont and a couple of the other guys spent part of New Year's Eve in 2006 hanging out at a community celebration in Surrey with the Grey Cup, which was pretty awesome. Sure, they don't have the profile of Terrell Owens or Tony Romo, but I would much rather get to meet quality guys than superstars who have bought into their own hype. Like Pat Jordan told Joe Posnanski,
"I have a basic feeling, a judgement, if you will, if the person is a good person or not. And again, it’s not “good” in the sense that they are pious or anything like that. It’s more about whether or not the subject is an authentic person. Because I can admire someone even if I don’t share their same values, so long as they aren’t a phony. I can’t tolerate phonies."