Dan Kukla

Last year, former ESPN anchor and current Sports Illustrated writer Dan Patrick came to Miami to discuss one question: Should today’s athletes be considered role models?

While Patrick assertively claimed “no” in response to his own prompt, after events on this campus just last week, I believe this answer needs to be revised.

The damage done to Oxford by Hurricane Ike interrupted everyone’s schedule and the men’s basketball team was no exception. The Sept. 15 power outage cancelled their practice. It did not, however, cancel their day.

Every single member of the men’s basketball team spent three hours lending a helping hand to Miami that day, cleaning up the debris blown around by the storm.

No, they didn’t implement world peace, cure world hunger or discover a cure for cancer. Any average human being could have done what they did. The question is, did they?

Hours after the basketball team shoved their last tree branch through the shredder, a large portion of Miami’s student population lit their proverbial (and, in this case, quite literal) torches and headed uptown for the “Rally on High Street” to whine about going to class on a Tuesday.

I realize that many people (including myself) went up to the so-called riot purely out of curiosity and boredom. Nevertheless, it says something about our culture: that we are more intrigued by the novelty of an uprising than the needs of others.

I applaud the basketball team for thinking how they could help other people before helping themselves. Purely from a basketball standpoint, working around a storm-stricken campus with power tools wasn’t exactly the smartest decision. The easy choice would have been to take a day off for rest and personal enjoyment; why risk injury when there is an upcoming basketball season to prepare for? It’s not like they didn’t have better things to do. Just like everyone who gathered outside of the president’s house, team members too had un-cancelled classes scheduled (gasp) Tuesday.

Theses basketball players and coaches, however, were not concerned with what best served their team or selves. They were more concerned with what best served the community.

In a time of need, this team stepped up as role models on our campus. I have already discussed how they led. Now it’s time for us to follow.

The first way we can follow after the example set by the basketball team is to simply become more aware of the people around us.

Everyone has needs and oftentimes, it doesn’t take much to notice. I personally am encouraged to become less self centered in my perception of others. Instead of always thinking, “How can this person help me?” I want my first thought to be, “How can I help this person?”

On a more practical level, just do it. It’s one thing to change thought processes but if the actions never follow suit, what’s the point?

One of Miami’s best kept secrets is the Office of Community Engagement and Service.

This is a great source for anyone looking for ways to serve the needs of others. It may mean giving up a Saturday morning, but a few less hours of sleep for you could mean the world for someone else.

In general, Dan Patrick is right. Most athletes these days are not role models. Hopefully, though, we are not so self-centered we don’t notice the few that are.