Released by the NY Giants earlier this year, running back Rashad Jennings took home a trophy of a different kind, by winning a ballroom dance competition. Now a free agent, he will be touring this summer with the Dancing with the Stars troupe as their celebrity guest.
Reality show programming in general continues its trend of marketing to micro-targeted audiences, from ice road trucker enthusiasts to culinary contest fans. Whether you’re a Dancing with the Stars follower or not, there’s a compelling theme to the program. It celebrates the rewards of hard work.
In my experience, there is no better example of hard workers than football players. The good ones have a solid work ethic with a singular commitment to drills and practice, a positive mindset, as well as an emotional connection to the game and to their teammates. It is therefore not surprising that so many NFL players have been successful on the dance floor in this style competition.
While a ratings device by a major network to suit up athletes and a few Hollywood has-beens in sequins and try to teach them complicated choreography, I like that football players are breaking barriers in this manner by stepping from one spotlight, into another — one in which they are just as vulnerable to possible failure, but one in which they could look foolish. When interviewed, none of these professional football players expected for their endurance and attitude to be as thoroughly tested as it was in this performance genre.
It is inspirational to see someone who has succeeded in another field, (or on another field!) challenge themselves in a unique circumstance. And to exhibit the bravery it takes to try something untried, on a national stage.
Their efforts serve to remind us that the only barriers that exist are the ones we place in our own path.