Several professional athletes have been in the news a lot lately for less than admirable actionsâ€”driving drunk, carrying an unlicensed weapon, having an extramarital affair, and, of course, abusing animals. It's mind-boggling, really. Believe me , if I had fame and fortune, I'd strive to do the most good with it.Â But there are actually some pro-athletes who do a lot of good deeds and charitable work. They just don't make as many headlines for it. Two of the superstars on my favorite team, the Baltimore Orioles, for example, are not only making a difference on the baseball field, but off it too.
On the baseball diamond, O's All-star second baseman Brian Roberts is perhaps best known for stealing, but in the Baltimore community, he's known for giving back. He's read to school children in underprivileged areas, hosted holiday parties in poor city schools, taken less fortunate families' holiday shopping, organized a fundraiser in memory of a young woman in the Orioles organization who died of breast cancer, and more. Just last week, he hosted his fourth annual "Brian's Baseball Bash"Â (see http://baltimore.orioles.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090816&content_id=6453188&vkey=news_bal&fext=.jsp&c_id=bal) to help the University of Maryland's Children Hospital. (Roberts underwent heart surgery when he was just five-years-old, so he knows what it's like to spend time in the hospital and makes a point to visit sick kidsâ€”without publicityâ€”to keep their spirits up.)Â
On the same day as Brian's Baseball Bash, Orioles hot-shot right-fielder Nick Markakis and his wife, Christina, held an 5k run and one mile fun walkÂ to benefit their new charity, The Right Side Foundation (http://www.rightsidefoundation.org/).Â The foundation raises funds to help disadvantaged children in Maryland, providing them with the resources and opportunity to enjoy childhood and grow intoÂ upstanding adults.
Both events were reportedly very successful, and even though I no longer live in Baltimoreâ€”and don't have money to donate at the momentâ€”I've made a mental note to contribute in the future, when possible. (I'll be the first person to tell you that people who make vulgar amounts of money for playing fun games damb well better donate large amounts of money to charity, but the rest of us should still try to help when we can.)
The Orioles are in last place, but I still like watching the games. Not just because I'm not a "fair weather fan," but because I know that what the players do off the field is even more important than what they do on it, and will cheer for good sports any day.Â