It is very easy for athletes to become cocooned in their own little sporting bubble, oblivious to events which are going on beyond their consciousness. This perception is perpetuated when athletes refuse to give their opinion on matters outwith their sport for fear of causing a spark of controversy. Or when footballers - and it is almost exclusively footballers - are singled-out for daring to engage in such cerebral activities as reading books.
Novak Djokovic most certainly cannot be classed as a one-dimensional sportsman. The Serb will go into next week's ATP World Tour Finals in London with the statistics showing that he is the No.2 tennis player in the world. The 26 year-old has won six grand slam titles and almost $55m in prize money. But he is so much more than that.
Andy Murray defied the odds in becoming a grand slam champion - the player likely to succeed Fred Perry as a British male grand slam champion was unlikely to have been Dunblane-born and bred - but Djokovic has overcome even longer odds. Born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, in 1987, Djokovic began playing tennis at the age of four. In an uncharted and near-impossible journey, 20-odd years on, he was the No.1 tennis player in the world and, perhaps more impressively, addressing the UN General Assembly in New York.
Djokovic attended the UN conference in late August as part of the declaration for an International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. The day will be celebrated for the first time on April 6 next year, so chosen because it is the date of the opening of the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896. In his conference address, he extolled the power of sport to improve lives.
The Serb is perhaps the perfect candidate to talk of the redemptive qualities of sport. Djokovic was only 12 years old when NATO began bombing the former Yugoslavia during the Kosovo war's military operations in a campaign aimed at ending Slobodan Milosevic's ethnic cleansing. He recalls playing on the tennis courts with military planes flying overhead. Djokovic and his first coach, Jelena Gencic, would move around the city in their efforts to find courts to practise on. They would choose areas that had been bombed the previous night on the assumption that they would not be bombed again so soon. Gencic's sister was killed during the 78-day bombing campaign.
Djokovic admits that, as a 12-year-old, he did not fully understand the situation; he simply remembered that he did not have to go to school and could spend more time playing tennis. Now, 14 years later, when asked about a possible military strike in Syria, Djokovic said: "I'm totally against any kind of weapon, any kind of missile attack. I'm totally against anything that is destructive. Because I had this personal experience, I know it cannot bring any good to anybody.
"These times that me and my countrymen went through is a period of life we don't wish anybody to experience. War is the worst thing for humanity. Nobody wins."
Djokovic may not live in Serbia any longer - he resides in the millionaire's playground of Monaco - but he maintains a close connection with his country of birth. He established his own foundation with the aim of alleviating the suffering of children in Serbia by providing the necessary supplies and services to both communities and individuals.
During his address to the UN General Assembly, Djokovic highlighted the benefits that sport brings to the globe. "I hope this international day will motivate each of us to invest in additional efforts in cultivating the intrinsic sporting values such as fair play, teamwork and respect for the opponent," he said. "When we encourage kids to dream big and work hard, we can make a tangible difference."
It is this point which is most poignant. Children from deprived backgrounds may find it difficult to identify with Roger Federer, who grew up in an affluent country, free from troubles. But when children see a role model such as Djokovic, it illustrates that anything is possible.
Irrespective of background, social class or wealth, sport levels the playing field. It shows that anyone can succeed and the fact that Djokovic is quite so pro-active in perpetuating this axiom is vital.
He has gone from a child in a war-torn country to one of the best tennis players to have graced a court, and addressing the UN General Assembly in one of the five languages that he speaks fluently.
That the Serb has thrived despite experiencing extreme adversity while growing up is a testament to his work ethic and his will to succeed. We talk about role models and sport provides many, but few are quite as inspiring as Djokovic.