Are Athletes Role Models?
The controversy on this topic is intriguing, and continues without much consensus or resolution. Peace and Healing has their own view with some psychological under pinnings that may be of some interest. Role models in our lives begin at birth. No one argues the point that our personality is shaped by our genetic structure and our environmental influence. Our mothers, fathers or our adult care takers are clearly our role models. We do not have a lot of choice on this matter, and their behavior shapes us for the negative or the positive. Later in life if we possess some ability to introspect. we then can decide if we are happy with the choices we made, and may be able to modify those influences.
The debate on whether professional athletes are role models holds little to no foundational weight. To be labeled as a role model falls directly on the shoulders of the perceiver. Anyone can be a role model, a family pediatrician can role model caring behavior, when an adult drives a vehicle is that adult not indirectly and directly role modeling to his child how to drive, and not show road rage? Children are sponges constantly soaking up information, eye balling, scanning us, and their environment, and learning daily. To say that an athlete on television, reveled by the media, endorses watches, shaving cream, tennis shoes, sport drinks and a plethora of other items is not a role model is saying our children are deaf, dumb and blind. It is an insult to our children to say they are not role models. The Nike commercial with Charles Barkely where he clearly states he is not a role model is ludicrous at best. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8vh2MwXZ6o
In this video this is the best example of a black and white no grey paradigm. I get paid as a basketball player, for your entertainment and a paycheck, but do not look up to my skills or my personality, but please buy my jersey where I get a percentage. Hmm Okay, with this distorted thinking then children should ONLY have parents as role models. Sad to say Charles that is not the way of life, and not the way the human brain works and not the way that developmental milestones occur. If that was the case look at the generations of children and the swing over the years of children hoping to make it to at least collegiate ball. Who was your role model Charles when you were growing up? You did not have any professional basketball player that you admired? Of course that leads into the question can one admire someone but not have them as a role model. So let us define role model. An individual that we look upon for guidance, and/or look up to with hope to have traits or ability like they have and then to emulate their behavior.
All adults are role models to children, period. From the Aunt, Grandparent, the clerk at he store, post office, and anyone our children may come in contact with. A firefighter is paid to reek havoc on fires and save lives and put out fires. So what child did not dream of being a firefighter when they came to the grade school talking about fire safety?
The responsibility to put life in perspective for these grossly mis-guided athletes falls on the parents. A very real discussion about the chances of making to the professional level is less that one percent, take the positives from watching their ability and talent, however place it in perspective. Teach your children about the woes of making an extraordinary amount of money and not knowing how to manage it, as well as the pressure of the media blitz and having a difficult time to even go out in public. That when a professional athlete makes the tiniest of mistakes in society it is blown out of proportion by the media, why? To make money, life trauma sells, tragedy sells.
Are athletes role models? Most definitely. Knowing that, protect your children’s expectations, but allow them to dream and have role models for disappointing moments is a learning experience. It is beneficial to see our role models fall from the pedestal we place them on. It shows their fragility, and they too are merely mortal. Embrace your children, guide their path, allow them to enjoy the athlete with a tad bit of scrutiny. That my parent is a healthy role model.