athlete behavior does not always match

Q: Salaamu Alaikoum,

My friend and I were talking about a particular athlete at a University.  This athlete is a very good player, but off the playing field this athlete is known to not carry himself in the most appropriate way, and is a bad influence to many looking up at him, yet many people cheer and route for this athlete because of how good they are at this particular sport.  We started to have a debate about whether it was ok to still cheer for this athlete.

Should we as Muslims demand a higher moral standard from these athletes?  Should we focus on the Muslim athletes only?   How does it effect ones deen, to cheer/route for an athlete that has bad moral conduct on or off of the playing field?  Should we look at them as professional/college athletes only on the court and keep it as that, and let their personal lives be their personal lives?  Or should we factor in everything and decide not to cheer for that particular player or team, because of inappropriate conduct on or off of the playing field?

I am hoping that this topic can also relate to “celebrities”.

wa salaamu alaikoum

Time: Friday May 28, 2010 at 8:50 am

A: وعليكم السلام ورحمة الله وبركاته

إِنَّمَا ٱلۡحَيَوٰةُ ٱلدُّنۡيَا لَعِبٌ۬ وَلَهۡوٌ۬‌ۚ وَإِن تُؤۡمِنُواْ وَتَتَّقُواْ يُؤۡتِكُمۡ أُجُورَكُمۡ وَلَا يَسۡـَٔلۡكُمۡ أَمۡوَٲلَكُمۡ 

The life of this world is but play and amusement: and if you believe and guard against Evil, He will grant you your rewards, and will not ask you (to relinquish) your possessions. (47:36)

Every person has a role. A professor, preacher, person in business, lawyer, school teacher, etc. Each can only reach their full potential by fine-tuning their skills coupled with the refinement of character. Likewise, athletes are awarded a position as a result of their playing abilities. As humans, we must support those that are the best — be they muslims or nonmuslims. We must help people bring out the best in themselves. Giving encouragement to good behavior is part of faith. We support those that do justice to human existence/values on the field as well as off the field. Support does not sanction shouting their names, drawing their faces on our bodies, etc.

If you are blessed to give them advice off the field and this would not prove as conflict of interest with a position one may hold, then you should do so. It would be rewarding for you and the player(s). As humans we have the potential to inspire others and we should try and positively impact all people.

For adults to cheer at sporting events that promote alcholol consuption, womanizing, turning humans into objects is not spiritually sanctioned. We should attempt to assist in creating a higher set of values for all people, our values should be such that we inspire humans to become their very best on every level. This should be the goal of all people, including Muslims.

Allah Certainly Knows Best.

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