When asked about his Latino heritage, New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez beams with pride. As one of the premier quarterbacks in the league and one of the few latino players in the NFL, Sanchez is somewhat of a poster boy for Latino football players. He also carries quite a bit of responsibility being one of the “faces” of latinos in American sport, but that is a responsibility he is glad to bear. Born in California to parents Nick and Olga, Sanchez is a third generation Mexican-American, and growing up in Southern L.A., he was always emerged in Latino culture. When it came time to go to college, Mark stuck to his roots and attended the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, where he found great success. He was drafted by the New York Jets, and in a sport that is traditionally dominated by white and African-American players, the Latino from L.A. has emerged as one of the sport’s best players. Just this year, Sanchez led his team to the conference finals, just one game away from the SuperBowl.
So here’s what I’m really getting at…What does Mark Sanchez mean to latino football???
Well, we don’t quite know yet…right now, Sanchez is just blooming into the gigantic public sports figure he will become. Anyone who knows football, knows Mark Sanchez, but one day not long from now, Mark Sanchez will be a household name to any Latino…football fan or not. True, selling a few more tickets to Latinos and getting a few more Latino TV sets tuned into the
NFL on Sundays will have a slight impact on the game, but Sanchez’s real impact will be felt 15 years from now. When little boys like the one to the right have grown up with a hero hanging up on their bedroom wall. A poster boy that they can identify with, that inspired them to break the mold because they can, they’ve seen it done, and we know that they’re seeing it: last year’s Super Bowl attracted 7.84 million Latino viewers in the US….that’s more than the world cup, which is the biggest even for the most popular Latino sport, soccer. What I’m saying is that Mark Sanchez has the potential to help completely change the demographic of the NFL. Since he is such a prominent sports figure, he can inspire young Latinos all over the world to one day be NFL stars. We won’t know his true impact for many years, but I have a feeling that there are plenty of “little Mark Sanchezs” out there right now just waiting to break the mold of football.