What’s the difference between LeBron James and a rec league player who, after a full day of work, goes 4-for-8 from the field, collects a few offensive boards, dishes six assists and then rushes home to unleash that same kind of energy to play with his kids?
That’s the thinking behind Dove Men+Care’s “Sponsored by SPORTCARE” campaign, a forward-thinking effort to celebrate the everyday men who take physical and mental healthcare seriously so they can go above and beyond for their families and communities.
An added bonus? The three men selected to be the faces of the campaign just happen to share names with some of the biggest professional athletes around.
Beyond The Name
Let’s start with Chris Paul. No, not the Oklahoma City Thunder’s star guard, but the Marine Corps veteran, realtor and fitness fanatic from San Diego. Like any other pro athlete, Paul makes sacrifices, getting up at 5:00am each day to hit the gym or go for a hike so he can “show up better” for the people around him.
Paul has two daughters from his first marriage, and then remarried a woman with four daughters.
“We’ve got an all-girl Brady Bunch,” he said. “Then we were blessed with a son to round out our team. So, we have seven kids who range from three to 19 years old.”
Then there’s Sean Williams, the volunteer firefighter and father of three from Farmingville, NY. Williams founded The Dad Gang in 2016, which is a movement to shatter negative stereotypes surrounding black fathers. The community, which has more than 55,000 followers on Instagram, organizes socially impactful events centered around celebrating active fathers and their children.
“I used to get a lot of compliments as a young black dad that made me feel like it was out-of-the-ordinary to be so caring and involved with my kids,” Williams explained. “So, I wanted to start something that would put black dads in a positive light.”
Whether it’s a pushup event, or “Strolling with the Homies” — a light jog with strollers to a local park — fathers and their children are all in.
“We had 100 dads for our stroller event, and there are meetups happening nationwide,” Williams said. “I think as a father, you have to be able to keep up with your kids, physically. So, scheduling time for self care and workouts is just as important as making it home and playing with your kids.”
Finally, there’s New Yorker Alvin Suarez, a Jack-of-all-trades adaptive baseball player, goalball athlete, musician, repair technician for a telecommunications company and single father of twin daughters.
Born premature, Suarez gradually lost function of the rods and cones in his eyes, and today, can only identify light in his field of vision.
“Because I’m a visually-impaired athlete, I was always considered a liability growing up when I tried out for teams,” he said. “Physical education programs didn’t want me to play anywhere. But, I never gave up.”
Today, he excels in goalball, the most popular sport among the visually impaired community.
“A lot of us joke that it’s reverse dodgeball,” he said. “You’re on a court, with three players on each side, and you have a three-pound ball that has bells on the inside. You’re supposed to throw the ball — bounce it or roll it — as hard as possible past the other team and into their goal.”
In addition to his commitment to goalball, he’s also a drummer for the Latin band, Los Ciegos Del Barrio.
“It means ‘the blind boys from the neighborhood’ because the entire band is legally blind. We’ve been around for 22 years and released a few records and singles,” he said.
Whether he’s throwing a goalball at close to 40MPH, or hammering away on a drum set, Suarez stays active for a reason beyond himself.
“I do it for my 12 year old daughters, so they can have a father around for most of their lives,” he said.
‘Top Plays’ Everyday
You don’t have to put ‘Paul,’ ‘Williams’ and ‘Suarez’ on the back of a jersey to see that these guys are so much more than weekend warriors. That’s why ESPN anchor Kevin Negandhi was thrilled to break the news on these athletes signing with Dove Men+Care.
“The only time I talk about everyday athletes is when we do our Top 10 list at the end of the month,” Negandhi said, referring to the SportsCenter segment. “What these guys have is no different from anyone in professional sports. They understand commitment. They know that they get back whatever they put in.”
They may not have kids lining up for their autographs, but they’re doing something much bigger.
“They’re breaking a stereotype that you need to be a certain type of athlete to be celebrated,” Negandhi said. “To me, these guys are every bit the sports heroes we need.”
Look no further than their proverbial highlight reels.