I actually started trying to be a professional writer with novels, and I wrote two that exist and are around... kind of. But they never really went anyplace in particular. I still like them both. What it showed me was that you can spend years on a novel, and then it could just be, like, OK, you spent that time and that's that.
I think you look around the world in general, and who are the most popular people in the world? You can say that politicians and musicians are up there, but I guarantee you that athletes are ranked right up at the top if not more than a lot of those people. When you're well known, people look at you - especially kids. They want to be you.