February 09, 2011
Among NBA players, Shane Battier(notes) is seen as something of a genius, a man who could have gone into any profession and succeeded but was blessed with enough raw athleticism to make a career of high-level basketball. Still, no one has given up on Battier helping the world after he stops playing sports. In that way, he's seen as the successor to Bill Bradley, a former Rhodes Scholar who went on to the U.S. Senate and a run for the Democratic presidential nomination.
"I've always loved to teach,'' Battier said in an interview with FanHouse about what he might do after basketball. "I could see myself as a teacher helping young people in some capacity. ... I've always thought about teaching a life skills class. There's so much common sense that kids never learn these days, like how to balance a checkbook, how to look over a mortgage agreement or an auto lease. ... Teach them skills that would really make a difference in their lives.'' [...]
"That's typical,'' Houston coach Rick Adelman said when asked about Battier considering being a high school teacher when his playing days are over. "Shane is a unique individual in this league. I'd be very, very surprised if he doesn't do something that's going to benefit everybody else. I keep telling him he'll be president some day. That's just the type of person he is. I think he's really got his head on straight.''
With most high school budgets dropping more and more every year, it's unlikely that any will add a life skills class just to accommodate Battier's wishes. But his willingness to help others is extremely commendable, especially for someone who has been given so much during his life so far. He knows that he's been lucky and wants to give back in any way he can.
By Battier's words, it's seems as if he'd like to do so on a municipal scale rather than a national one. But it should be noted that those wishes don't have to get in the way of a fast rise in politics, too. At the risk of getting too cynical, Battier could spend a few years teaching kids to prove that he's not just a well-known name looking for more fame after his basketball career ends. That's not to say that his intentions wouldn't be noble -- Battier obviously wants to help people at a local, state and national level -- but practicality sometimes dictates spending a few years at the lower levels before a politician can reach more desirable heights.
Again, Battier's primary interest is in making a better future for our nation's youth whether he teaches or aims for the presidency. It's just that short-term pursuits can often be part of long-term goals, and Battier could still have his eye on the lofty heights that have been suggested for him since he first enrolled at Duke more than a decade ago.
Whatever he decides to do, though, the man is a rare species in professional sports and deserves to be held up as a role model. He's intelligent, thoughtful, and a great presence in the locker room. Any high school would be lucky to have him on the staff, and not just because he'd probably be the best basketball coach in the division.