It probably comes as no surprise, but Gabe Marks looks up to iconic historical figures who weren't afraid of sharing their opinions, no matter how contrarian or unpopular they might have been
Outspoken and honest, former Washington State receiver Gabe Marks has long been a big proponent of athletes using their platforms to be activists.
In this letter he wrote to his younger self at The Seattle Times’ behest, Marks tries to steel Young Gabe for tougher times ahead, both in football and in the world.
“In the trying times that lie ahead, you will see more division, hate, and overall digression of people’s ability to empathize with one another than you could ever have imagined. I know it may be hard to understand now but your voice over time will prove to be far more valuable than anything that you could accomplish on a football field.”
Asked to name a cause he feels most strongly about in today’s world, Marks said, “Right now, just the overall treatment of people in the world. People being treated equally is a big issue, people’s understanding each other and overall empathy for other people is at an all time low.”
Marks also doesn’t shy away from saying that he’s “not a fan” of the Donald Trump administration – an opinion that runs against that espoused by his college coach. WSU head coach Mike Leach is friends with President Trump, and he stumped for Trump during his presidential campaign last fall.
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Marks says he and Leach have had lively but civil debates about their political views and they respect one another, though they don’t agree.
“We both feel the way we feel about it. I know a lot of people feel very strongly one way or the other. But coach Leach doesn’t have any deep rooted racial things or anything like that,” Marks said, adding that Leach’s support for Trump stems more from the coach’s belief that the president’s policies will benefit businesses and the economy.
Leach said in a text message Tuesday night that his discussions with Marks about politics and current affairs were “insightful, where both of us respected each other’s opinions and thoughts.”
“We probably both learned something and had the opportunity to challenge and consider the validity of our own views,” Leach said.
In his letter to his younger self, Marks also talks about the importance of alone time for self-reflection.
“Learn to embrace being alone. You will spark your greatest thoughts and come to your greatest realizations about the world and yourself in these precious moments of solitude.”
“I spend a lot of time by myself because you play football year round, there’s so many people all day, you don’t really get a chance to think about yourself,” Marks said. “I try to write and stuff and just sit in silence every day for a while and not deal with people so I can be a better person when I get out there in the world.”
The other key to a well-rounded, educated individual? Literature, Marks says.
“Read more. Knowledge is the key to the rest of the world that is currently hidden from your sight. Be brave and unyielding in your quest for the truth. Ask questions to things that you do not understand.”
Marks names Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist among his favorite books, and also enjoys the philosophy and mystery genres. Especially Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novels.
Marks considers many of the cultural icons of the 1960s and 1970s as his greatest role models — Malcolm X, the Black Panther movement Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Muhammad Ali and the Beatles.
“They’re just people who aren’t afraid to express themselves about things they feel strongly about,” Marks said.
And what would Marks change about the world if he had the power to do anything?
“World hunger,” Marks said, without hesitation. “No one should be starving in a world where people have billions and billions of dollars and people have the ability to end world hunger, and people aren’t doing it. That’s pretty frustrating to me. It would be $37 billion (per year) to end world hunger right now, and we aren’t doing it.”