The Hope I See in NBA Glasses (Article)

Have you heard about the new trend of NBA stars wearing lens-less glasses? This new fashion statement has been attributed to the basketball powerhouse Lebron James. Why in the world would the king of basketball choose nerdy-looking glasses that do not change his vision as a fashion accessory? I think it is also interesting that a player who never stepped foot into a college classroom wants to look collegiate by wearing glasses without lenses. Just an accident? I don’t think so. Rather, I believe that an important signal is being sent to children in America, especially children from disadvantaged families who often have been discouraged from obtaining high academic achievement. With a wink and a nod, maybe Lebron and others are giving children the go-ahead to do their best in school by highlighting the academic look.

I have spent my entire adult life around children of all ages and backgrounds. I tutored in the public schools for ten years in addition to talking to children all day long as part of my medical career. Unfortunately, in the some of poorer communities in Charlotte kids often seem to connect more easily with their sports heroes than with the stars of the academic world. I have really never understood this mindset, but I believe it exists nonetheless; children are taunted and ridiculed if they get good grades, do their work, and achieve in the standard way.

So, back to Lebron and his colleagues. Why did they choose a fashion statement that makes them look more like a college professor than a superstar athlete? They know that the youth of America are carefully watching their every move. Maybe the signal to these children is that academic success is OK for everyone, even children who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Maybe the choice they previously were given of choosing low academic achievement or experiencing social isolation is over…the message that effectively keeps so many children in a cycle of failure.

I think it helps our mental health to try to find things to be optimistic about in our own lives every day. I know I am grasping for optimism with my thoughts about lensless eyewear, but when I heard about NBA players wearing glasses, I immediately thought…”Maybe the tide has changed. Maybe there are going to be new rules and hope for so many children that have given up so much.” To Lebron and your colleauges: keep up the good work!

Your comments are welcome at my blog,  Until next time.

Opinions expressed here are solely those of Paul Smolen M.D.