Professional Athletes are not Role Models

Professional Athletes, Role Models?

Infos Jan 19, 2010 Comments Off

Should professional athletes be considered role models to our children? This post is an article written by Alan Shiflett during high school in the which he proposes athletes should in no way be considered role models.

“No, I get to be Kobe Bryant,” my brother argued.  Growing up we always fought over who got to play Kobe Bryant or Vince Carter in our backyard basketball games.  Athletes have been immortalized by their significant achievements in the sports which they play, and therefore have been pointed to as role models for children.  However, while the feats which they accomplish on the field or court might be great, athletes are poor role models.  To me a role model is defined as a person whom we wish to become like as a result of their positive actions.  Athletes fail to show the responsibility to be role models by not behaving appropriately when off the court/field.  Many people argue that children know not to look up to athletes as anything besides sports stars, but in a recent survey in which children ages11-17 were asked to name their role models, Michael Jordan tied with God (Caple).   Athletes are not the type of people which parents should encourage their children to look up to.

To begin, parents are continuously encouraging their children to be hard working people.  They assign chores and duties to build their child’s work ethics.  How is it that they can then encourage a child to look up to someone who plays a game for a living?  While athletes may work hard at improving their skill, one must remember that they are getting paid millions to play a game while others are working hard for less pay.  By visiting a recreational basketball league or a high school game one can see the true dedication in the players, just without getting money in return for their skill.  The real sports role models are those who “work at their sport for the love of the sport, having no huge monetary payoff waiting for them should they perform well” (Williams).  By pointing to the people who get paid millions rather than the people who work just as hard, but at a non-paid level, one is saying that money is the most important thing in life.  “It could be argued that they are making the world better by providing entertainment for millions of people, but life would go on without sports.  It would be different, but it would continue” (Brown).

While being great at what they do, athletes do not act like role models when off the court/field.  Charles Barkley stated, “I am not a role model! I’m a professional basketball player.  I am paid to wreak havoc on the basketball court” (Sailes).  Most professional athletes do not want to be role models, they just want to live their life in luxury and have fun.  Athletes constantly find themselves in trouble with the law.  Cases like O.J. Simpson being accused of manslaughter, Kobe Bryant being accused of rape, and Kerry Collins being arrested for drunk driving are common stories on ESPN.  No one is surprised to hear of an athlete being arrested for spousal abuse or drug possession.  Athletes being involved in illegal activities are common, yet children still look up to these athletes.  What message are parents sending to children by saying “be like Kobe Bryant,” but only when he is on the basketball court?  Role modeling is a 24/7 thing, not just for a couple hours while playing a game.  Athletes often blame their off the court mistakes on pressure enforced on them by the media, but the facts remain that what they do is wrong.  Many athletes find it easy to make up excuses for their bad actions (Caple).  By showing children that there is always an excuse makes it dehumanize the child’s thoughts and continue to be like their “role model.”

Athletes cross legal lines almost weekly by breaking laws. While everyone makes mistakes during the course of his/her life, laws and punishments are set to be enforced.  Unfortunately, often athletes are given less severe punishments due to their fame. Then, they continue to receive huge salaries and are easily forgiven by fans.  I remember when my ex-favorite basketball player, Jason Kidd, was sent to jail for beating his wife.  Questioned today about Jason Kidd, no one will remember that he did not receive any punishment for his actions and he continued getting paid millions of dollars despite committing a serious crime.  When professional athletes get away with things such as this a message is sent to children saying: “If you can play a sport well, you will be excused…you can live by a set of rules just for athletes” (Williams).  Athletes are too easily forgiven and as a result, mixed message are being sent to children.

I love sports and respect the athletes who play them, but I realize that they are in no way proper role models for America’s youth.  Real role models are those who do not get paid millions to play a game, but those who work hard everyday to provide for their family.  Role models are those who risk their lives for the sake of others.  Charles Barkley was correct when he stated, “Parents should be role models!” (Sailes).  While I look up to athletes for their dedication to their sport, my role models are people who have affected my life positively and have made a lasting impact on my life as a result of their love for me and others.

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