My four-year old twins were given matching Cam Newton jerseys for their birthday last fall, and every day since then, they’ve woken up with eager expectation, “Are the Panthers playing today?”
“No buddy, they play on Sunday,” I’ll reply.
They frown for a moment, then they insist on watching highlights so that they can run around the house mimicking Cam Newton as they chant KEEP POUNDING.
As a late Christmas present, my parents surprised all of us with tickets to the Panthers final home game versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There, at Bank of America Stadium, my sons watched in awe as Cam Newton led the Panthers to a historic 15-1 regular season record, clinching first place in the NFC for the NFL Playoffs.
The look on their faces is pure, innocent joy.
— Matt Ham (@matthamsr) January 28, 2016
Should I Let My Kids Cheer For Cam Newton?
Behind the Panthers’ success is their high-flying quarterback and showman, Cam Newton. He is the one my sons idolize. Perhaps that word is too strong, but it reveals the dedication with which they cheer for their favorite player.
However, Cam Newton has caught a lot of flack for his on-field antics. His brash, flamboyant attitude shows flashes of a modern-day Muhammad Ali.
He enters the stadium and pretends to rip open his shirt, much like Clark Kent revealing his Superman costume. After every first down, he dances around the field and has his signature first down move where he points toward the goal with both hands. Finally, his touchdowns have been marked with his signature “Dab” and a sprint up the sideline holding his finger in the air.
He really stirred the pot however when he snatched a poster from a Green Bay Packers fan as it hung on the sideline prior to a home game. Then, when he snatched a “12th Man” flag from an opposing Seattle Seahawks fan after the Panthers defeated them to earn a shot at the NFC Title Game, the dislike grew into hatred.
Since then, opposing team’s fans have been thrashing Cam Newton with open letters and petitions, calling him a classless disgrace to football.
After the Panthers lost the Super Bowl, a stream of “I told you so’s” began to fly from the lips of the critics.
And it begs the question: Should I let my kids cheer for a guy like Cam Newton?
The answer is, yes. We absolutely cheer for Cam Newton, and here’s why.
Cam Newton is a master at celebrating accomplishments—both his and his teammates’ victories. After every score, both offensive and defensive, he’s the first one in the end zone celebrating. In fact, he recently had Under Armour make a pair of shoes that has the name of every single one of his teammates written on it.
In a world where Kanye steals the microphone from an award-winning artist during her acceptance speech, our culture has lost itself in celebration of itself only. Cam Newton reminds me to celebrate those around me as well, something I want my sons to do well.
There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance that you learn as you understand the talents that were given to you. When you use those talents well and celebrate the talents of others, it actually celebrates the One who gave them to you.
Have Fun Doing Your Job
We don’t get to see the behind-the-scenes work that goes into competing on an elite level, but Cam Newton has Mondays too. And Mondays for him are all about bruises and ice baths. But despite the bruises and ice baths, he’s still smiling on Sunday.
That type of attitude is contagious.
One of the curious things I’ve noticed this year is how the Panthers’ sideline has become a breeding ground for positive energy.
What would it look like if you carried that energy into your job?
What if today’s corporate leaders breathed that much encouragement into their people?
Cam Newton reminds memail to embrace a deep sense of gratitude in the everyday, even Mondays, and breathe positive energy into those around me.
Because gratitude is contagious.
Use Your Influence For Good
Cam Newton is incredibly generous. Around the holidays, he hosted events in the Charlotte area providing food, toys, and clothes for those who were less fortunate. In addition, he has made it a habit to give away footballs to the kids in the stands after every touchdown. Watching the reactions on their faces has been the highlight of the season. In fact, I cheer for the Panthers to score simply because I want to see another kid’s face light up.
The truth is, generosity always wins. Even in the midst of losing, if you have a generous spirit, victory is certain. That’s why, when the Panthers lost the Super Bowl, their season was a huge win. They reminded us of some important things, not only about football, but about life as well.
In the end, Cam Newton is not a god to idolize. He’s a twenty-six-year old who has been given incredible talents and an incredible stage. Rather than pick apart his flaws, let’s choose to celebrate his strengths.
I believe that his celebration, joy, and generosity, while partly for entertainment, actually reflects a deeper conviction. He understands the position of influence that he’s been given and I believe that he’s using it for good.
In the end, that’s a guy I can cheer for.
About the author:
Matt Ham is a speaker and author based in Wilmington, North Carolina. He and his wife, Liz, have three sons and a daughter. Matt’s first book, Redefine Rich: A New Perspective on the Good Life, can be found here.
To inquire about having Matt speak, visit his speaking page.