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Role Models

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Drugs…Rape…Violence… Does this sound like a message that should be given out to kids? Do these sound like the type of traits you would expect to see from a role model? Every story has two sides, but the bottom line is that the athletes in today’s society are considering themselves at higher standards than the rest of us. Some of the athletes deserve every bit of praise they receive and some should be banished, but our society sees things very differently.

"I am not a role model," said Charles Barkley in a 1993 Nike advertising campaign. This statement was so strong that it had people scratching their heads all over the country. He is a professional basketball player, rich, and a public figure. Sounds great doesn’t it? But an Iowa state basketball player (Jackson Vroman) states how it is hard to be in the public eye. Everything you do seems to be on camera or is being watched. When an athlete gets arrested for drinking it is not only in the paper but it is on national television. When an athlete goes to a hospital and signs autographs for kids and sets up sports camps in local neighborhoods, it might make a flyer posted on billboard outside a building. Sometimes these athletes do have it rough, but sometimes they can have it to easy as well.

In addition to athletes experiences and fans obsessions why would it be beneficial to idolize an athlete?

Looking up to an athlete as a role model can be a very positive thing. People who have athletes as role models usually try to be like that person in any way they can. They might train harder, hit the books harder, or even change the way they go out. For the most part to be like an

elite athlete you must train vigorously. This coincides with eating right, not drinking or doing drugs, and keeping those grades up in school. This is a very positive approach for a high school or college student.

First, the determination to be like that particular person results in being a better person. Staying out of trouble in school or outside school. If the person is truly dedicated he/she will not drink or even go to a party where they are likely to drive home drunk or be part of a bad scene. Many will concentrate on the goal and do whatever it takes to reach it.

Second, someone with these types of goals realizes the importance of a schools education. Without good grades there will be no playing time or even a spot on the team.

Sometimes even the worst of students, like William Gates in, “Hoop Dreams,” have to strive for better grades to be like their favorite player or even get a scholarship to a big school. In, “Hoop Dreams,” Gates has to take the ACT 5 times to finally be eligible for a scholarship to Marquette University.

Third, the path taken by a high school and college athlete tends to be a positive experience that teaches the individual valuable skills and life long lessons. As a matter of fact about 40% of athletes say that they would not even be going college if it were not for the sport they were playing or for the scholarship they were on. So the graduation rate of many students in schools is increasing due to school sports. Another example of this is illustrated to you in, “Hoop Dreams,” when Gates goes to Marquette and drops out after the first 2 years and later comes back to school because of his scholarship and love of the game of basketball.

On the other hand, having an athlete as a role model can be a very negative thing as well. Some negative things about athletes include: violence, drugs and alcohol, and just overall

behavior. Many Athletes are showing up on tabloids and television news daily. Should others mimic all the actions they portray?

When athletes like Marion Jones and Mark McGuire set several records using substances like steroids it sets a tone for others trying to pursue that particular sport. Marion and Mark both denied the allegations against them and later confessed to there doping. Whether or not the records are taken away from these people are still somewhat debatable considering the words of Victor Conte when he states, “ the Olympics is a huge scandal of doping and cover up.” If this is really the case, then is it fare to take back medals and will other athletes be thinking of how they can cheat the system and make their name known? In class we talked about statistics and how 60% of athletes would dope if they would not get caught and die in 5 years! These numbers are growing due to success of up and coming stars and drugs.

Another point is the approach towards violence in which many of the athletes today are abusing more than ever. Many violence issues with athletes including: O.J. Simpson, Michael Vick, and Kobe Bryant to name a few. These top name super stars are being charged with cruelty to animals, rape, and even murder.



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