Back in 1993, Charles Barkley (in)famously said “I’m not a role model. Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.”
At the time, that was a very controversial statement, and Barkley took a lot of heat for it. With the way social media runs with everything these days, I can only imagine how that would have been received today. But I have always wondered, should athletes really be considered role models?
In every group of people in every walk of life, and I mean every walk of life, there are some good people in the group, and there are some bad people. This includes teachers, janitors, law enforcement, grocery store cashiers, clergymen, construction workers, scientists, gas station workers, and politicians. Especially politicians. Everyone. Many of those people are great human beings, who genuinely want to help others, and want to be a good example for today’s youth. Then you have some people that well, are not.
Why should athletes be looked at differently? And I say the same thing for actors and musicians by the way.
For every athlete that beats his wife, there are thousands of “regular people” that do the same thing. For every athlete that throws a tantrum on the field, there is a slow-pitch softball player that does the same. For every athlete that gets a DUI, you have a co-worker that has done the same. For every athlete that blows all his money gambling, you have a friend that does the same. For any other transgression that you hear athletes engage in, you know a “regular person” that does the same thing.
Am I condoning any of these behaviors? Absolutely not. My point is, it’s wrong for anyone to do it. Not just athletes.
Flipside of this, for every mechanic you hear of spending their off-day at a Children’s Hospital, there is an athlete that does the same thing. For every computer engineer that donates money to a troubled youth organization, there is an athlete that does the same thing. For every CEO that organizes a food drive to help the homeless, there is an athlete that does the same thing. For every college kid that makes a sign on College Gameday and raises over $1,000,000 towards a Children’s Hospital…yeah, that probably doesn’t happen often. Sorry.
Like I said, there are good people and bad people in every walk of like. These athletes were raised in the same homes we all were, often times much worse actually. Just because they are great athletes, does not mean they were taught to be good role models to the youth that may be watching them and emulating their every move. Those skills and qualities should come from the parents and the family, not the sports star on TV.
Would it be great if all athletes were passionate about making our youth better? Of course. But it would be equally as great if everyone else did the same.
Just because someone makes millions of dollars, does not mean they are a role model. And just because someone can throw a tight spiral 60 yards down the field, hit a 93 MPH fastball over the centerfield wall, or can execute a no-look alley-oop…does not mean they are equipped with the skills to properly guide the impressionable youth of our country.
Sure, it would be great. But it’s not a requirement for the job. Just a perk we should enjoy when we do see it.
I happen to agree with Charles Barkley on this matter.