Are Athletes Role Models?

Chris Schisler

Football players are going to be considered role models whether or not they should be. Its hard for a 10 year old kid not to look up to a guy who has the coolest job on the planet. Adults need role models too and they often look to the people they live through vicariously. This does not mean that a football player has any responsibility to be the role model; it only means that people look at them as role models. Some football players probably feel this burden and strive to set a positive example. However, why should we expect this to be a universal choice amongst professional athletes? We don’t ask a mail man to be someone their kids can look up to; we only ask them to do their job and not go postal. Concerned parents should tell their children to use their own judgement rather than modeling themselves after their personal heroes. An even wiser thing for a parent would be to tell their kids that football players are human (therefore not perfect) and that we can learn good and bad lessons from them (as we can from any human).

Children are impressionable, and I know this from past experience. There was a time when I was a cute little boy, rather than a hairy 23 year old. When I was a boy, Ray Lewis had made quite an impression on me. I was loud and boisterously enthusiastic just like him (I still am). I had a Ray Lewis dance for any occasion. Ray Lewis however was charged with obstruction of justice and was the prime suspect of a murder investigation. Ray Lewis was found innocent and we have seen countless examples that he is a great man. Still my hero was probably not an appropriate role model for a 10 year old.

From the obstacles Ray Lewis overcame, to his great achievements, he had a profound impact on me growing up. His wrong place, wrong time incident, that placed him in handcuffs, teaches a great lesson. It teaches us that the company we keep says a great deal about us. If we associate with trouble makers, we will find trouble. It shows us that we need to surround ourselves with true friends, that have our best interests at heart. This is a great lesson for a kid: think for yourself, be independent of the group and use your own judgement.

Ray Lewis taught me the true meaning of passion. He is the embodiment of pure, unadulterated passion. His tenacious belief in himself and his team showed that nothing could beat unmatched positive energy. This is a man who worked harder than anybody, that cared more than anyone thought possible, that carried the hopes and dreams of Baltimore’s football fans on his shoulders and made us all believe in the Ravens. He may not be a perfect role model, he may not be something to try to replicate but there are certainly great things to learn from him.

Parents get so worked up over everything a player does wrong, after all the impressionable children are watching. To these people I say grow up, because your impressionable children are only learning a childish blame game from you (the most significant example setter they have). Your son is going to idolize their favorite athletes no matter what you do. The best thing you can do is make sure they distinguish the good from the bad and learn lessons from their hero’s failures and successes. In conclusion, football players may not be role models but we can learn life lessons from them.

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