Spearheaded by Dustin Smith, it is called Especially for Athletes (E4A) and its concepts are included in a book due out this month by Smith and co-author Shad Martin with a foreword by Detmer.
“There is a lot of responsibility in being an athlete not only to your team, but to the others you may influence,” said Detmer.
“I have been fortunate to be in a position to influence others through athletics and have personally seen the impact athletes can have both for the positive and the negative. In this age of sports we sometimes get caught up in getting ahead instead of living in the moment and taking the time to influence others in a positive way.”
Detmer said a perfect example of this was given in an LDS conference talk by David Beck, general Young Men’s president. He told the story of Chy Johnson, a young woman victimized by bullying in school. An athlete, Carson Jones, answered the call by Chy’s mother to find out who was doing the bullying. Jones did just that, but believed he could do more. He became Chy’s best friend and it transformed her life, especially when other athletes began treating Chy like a queen in and out of school.
“We are seeing too many athletes today who take advantage of the system and have a “me first” attitude only to later regret their actions and in too many cases ruin their reputation and crush other’s opinion of them,” according to Detmer.
“ I have had times in my personal life when I have been knocked down and have had to dust myself off and go back to work to be better the next time around, and like the book explains, I had to ‘Do the Work’ with my ‘Eyes Up.’ That is a message every young athlete should read and try to follow."
Detmer said he has played with athletes over the years who have turned down autographs from kids and he’s seen the disappointment and hurt in their eyes when they turn away. He’s also seen many NFL players take time out on Tuesdays to help people, make appearances, visit those in need and do service. He’s seen what it’s done to people and to the athlete.
Detmer remembers when NBA star Charles Barkley told a national TV audience, “I’m not a role model. I’m not paid to be a role model. Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I raise your kids.”
“I disagree,” said Detmer.
“Some guys proclaimed that they weren't a role model, or that they didn't sign up for that responsibility, but I believe when you sign up to play a sport, that responsibility comes with the commitment to play. In the book (‘Especially for Athletes, Its More than Just a Game’) it is referred to as the ‘Sport Light’ and in ‘Seeking to Bless and Not Impress.’ ”
Detmer has joined Smith in the movement, E4A, and he is pushing its principles coast to coast. One of those mantras is for athletes to live with their eyes up, to look adults in the eyes, to sit on the front row in class, to see people around them that need inclusion.
“Every nine minutes, a young person attempts to take their life,” said Smith. “They need help, they need to find support. Athletes are in a position to use their spotlight to elevate others, to bless them. That is what this is all about.”
“When Ty speaks, people listen,” said Smith.
And it helps that Detmer walks the talk.
He always has.
Editor's note: For more information about Smith and Detmer's challenge to athletes, find them on Facebook or Especiallyforathletes.com.
Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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