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Professional Athletes: Are they worthy to be role models?

There is a role model amongst all of us, but who is the best person for children to emulate? Parents, siblings, military, teachers, friends, actors/actresses, artists, musicians, and professional athletes are the most likely candidates. If it were up to parents, the choice would likely be someone who is honest, trustworthy, moral, caring of others, intelligent, and overall a good person. However, usually it is not up to parents.

So when it comes to choosing a role model, a person who a child aspires to be like, who is worthy of such an honor? Is it someone with special qualities such as versatility, determination, strength, discipline, dominance, skill, or outstanding athletic performance? Is it someone who they admire or who is popular? Is it a celebrity or perhaps someone who for one reason or another has left an impression on a child? After all children are very impressionable. What if your child’s role model turned out to be a professional athlete? Nowadays it seems common for school age children to identify with professional athletes but are they truly worthy of such an honor?

Professional athletes are often viewed as figures children can identify with. They often exhibit an abundance of positive attributes such as sportsmanship, focus and concentration, determination, strength, athletic intelligence, versatility, and group or team dynamics. But what about the negative attributes that some professional athletes also exhibit such as closeted aggression, inflamed ego, individualism, violence, inappropriate behaviors, and engagement in illegal activities. Negative attributes or behaviors that parents generally hope their children will not learn, exhibit or engage in.

Aren’t role models suppose to set an example by displaying good behavior, good morals, and teaching children right from wrong? Then how is it several professional athletes, athletes whom children admire and want to emulate, have been accused of horrific acts such as rape, violence, adultery, and drug and alcohol abuse? Although it seems that the percentage of professional athletes accused of these acts is small, many parents do not want their children emulating individuals whose morals and values are less than ideal.

People in society often identify certain qualities that are desired in a role model such as honesty, trust, great leadership, stellar performance, perseverance, intelligence, great character, and responsibility. If a person is accused of or even worse found to have committed horrific or illegal acts, then is that the type of character parents want their children to emulate? The answer is likely to be no. This is not to say that these mishaps occur solely by professional athletes. All individuals exhibit both positive and negative attributes but given that their star struck lives are so public perhaps they should be more cognizant of who they are, what they do, and the enormous influence they have on children. After all their biggest fans are often the impressionable school aged children and adolescents.

We all have improvements to make in life. Professional athletes are not so different than the rest of society. Everyone has good and bad qualities.  However, given their level of influence on youth and the publicity of their lives, they may want to think before they act.

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