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CNN Presents Classroom: Top 25 Sports Characters

EDUCATOR GUIDE

SPORTS CHARACTERS

1. Charles Barkley
2. John McEnroe
3. Magic Johnson
4. Dennis Rodman
5. George Foreman
6. John Daly
7. Lance Armstrong
8. Bo Jackson
9. Pete Rose
10. Andre Agassi
11. Allen Iverson
12. Serena Williams
13. Dale Earnhardt
14. Sugar Ray Leonard
15. Deion Sanders
16. Fernando Valenzuela
17. William "The Refrigerator" Perry
18. Rickey Henderson
19. Anna Kournikova
20. Brett Favre
21. Scotty Bowman
22. Tony Hawk
23. John Madden
24. Picabo Street
25. Doug Flutie

Set your VCR to record the CNN Special Classroom Edition: Top 25 Sports Characters when it airs commercial-free on Monday, September 5, 2005, from 4:00 -- 5:00 a.m. ET on CNN.

Program Overview

Who were the biggest and most memorable sports characters from the past 25 years? In this CNN Special Classroom Edition, the editors of Sports Illustrated magazine come up with their list of sports personalities who enraged and engaged us over the past quarter century. Join CNN as we count down to Number One.

Grade Level: 9-12, college

Subject Areas: Physical Education, Sports Psychology, Social Studies, Behavioral Studies

Objectives

The CNN Special Classroom Edition: Top 25 Sports Characters and its corresponding discussion questions and activities challenge students to:

  • Determine the traits that categorize an athlete as a "sports character;"
  • Conduct a hypothetical interview with a chosen sports character;
  • Examine the psychological factors that give some athletes a competitive edge over others, and determine ways to apply some of those factors to their everyday challenges.
  • Curriculum Connections

    Curriculum Standards for Social Studies

    Standard IV: Individual development and identity: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of individual development and identity.

    The Curriculum Standards for Social Studies (http://www.socialstudies.org/standards/external link) are published by the National Council for Social Studies (http://ncss.org/external link).

    Behavioral Studies

    Standard 1. Understands that group and cultural influences contribute to human development, identity and behavior.

    Level IV [Grade: 9-12]

    Benchmark 1. Understands that cultural beliefs strongly influence the values and behavior of the people who grow up in the culture, often without their being fully aware of it, and that people have different responses to these influences

    Benchmark 2. Understands that punishment for "unacceptable" social behavior depends partly on beliefs about the purposes of punishment and about its effectiveness (which is difficult to test scientifically because circumstances vary greatly and because legal and ethical barriers interfere)

    Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education (Copyright 2000 McREL) is published online by Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) (http://www.mcrel.org/standards-benchmarks/external link), 2550 S. Parker Road, Suite 500, Aurora, CO 80014; Telephone: 303/337-0990.

    Physical Education

    Standard 5. Understands the social and personal responsibility associated with participation in physical activity

    Level IV [Grade: 9-12]

    Benchmark 5. Understands the history and purpose of international competitions

    Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education (Copyright 2000 McREL) is published online by Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) (http://www.mcrel.org/standards-benchmarks/external link), 2550 S. Parker Road, Suite 500, Aurora, CO 80014; Telephone: 303/337-0990.

    Discussion Questions

    1. Who decided which athletes would be on CNN's list of Top 25 Sports Characters? Which athletes made this list? Did any of these names surprise you? If so, which ones and why? Would you have chosen to nominate any other people for this list? Explain.

    2. Why do you think that CNN and Sports Illustrated chose to compose a list of "sports characters"? In your view, are these individuals also the greatest athletes of the past 25 years? How would you explain the difference between a sports character and a great athlete? Can an individual be one to the exclusion of the other? Can an individual be both? Explain.

    3. What kinds of personal traits make someone a sports character? Identify the athletes known by each of these nicknames that were mentioned in the program: Charlie Hustle, The Birdman, The Refrigerator, Primetime, The Intimidator, Superbrat, Sir Charles. In each case, what physical attributes and personality traits contributed to the athlete's nickname? Do you think that a nickname enhances a sports character's persona? If so, how?

    4. Who are some of the athletes who made the Top 25 Sports Characters list for positive reasons? Who were the athletes who made the list for less than positive reasons? In each case, how did the actions of these athletes impact themselves and their sports? How does an athlete's conduct, both on and off the field, determine what the public thinks about him or her? In your opinion, does the public have the right to expect certain standards of behavior from athletes when they are engaged in competition? In your opinion, should athletes be held to higher standards for their behavior in their private lives? State your rationale.

    5. In this program, former basketball star and Number One sports character Charles Barkley says, "I'm not a role model. I'm not paid to be a role model." Do you agree or disagree with Sir Charles? Should professional athletes be role models? Why or why not?

    Suggested Activities

    1. Your "All-Interview Team"

    Challenge pairs of students to create their own "All-Interview Team" of 10 memorable athletes from various sports from the past 25 years. Students will want to consider which athletes most captured their attention and would make for a good interview. Then, direct each pair to choose one person from the list to "interview." Ask: How would you prepare for an interview with this person? What information would you want or need to know in advance of your interview? What questions would you ask this athlete? Have student pairs research the athlete's life and accomplishments and use this information to create a list of interview questions and possible responses. Direct each pair to perform a roleplay of its hypothetical interview, using the prepared questions and factual information about the athlete's life and career. After the interviews, discuss why the public is fascinated with these individuals and what lessons we can learn from them.

    2. The Competitive Edge

    For many athletes, there are psychological factors that enable them to excel in competition. Lead a class brainstorming session to generate a list of these psychological factors, which include motivation, drive and attitude. Write students' responses on the board. Then, conduct a class discussion about athletes that students recall who have been known for performing well under pressure or in spite of injury or adversity. Point out examples from the video, such as Lance Armstrong and Brett Favre, and challenge students to come up with other examples. Direct each student to learn more about one of these athletes and the non-physical factors that make that person a great competitor. Have each student share his or her findings. Discuss how students can employ some of these psychological elements to assist them in their everyday challenges.

    Keywords

    Inspiration, sports character, intensity, "gift for gab," sports icon, adversity, commercial appeal, Cy Young Award, flamboyance, aggressive, NASCAR, charisma, Wimbledon, phenom, aerobic ability, allegations, resilience, HIV, endorsement deal, role model

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