"I am not a role model"

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Well it only took the better part of 15 years but Charles Barkley is right. Yes, through all his nonsensical banter we should have actually heeded some of his advice and thoughts on professional sports.

In 1993, his famous “I am not a role model” Nike commercial was aired. Drawing huge backlash, then and countless times since then, he’s stood by his statement. And guess what? If you haven’t believed him yet, it’s time you should.

This week as I tragically follow the saga of former Spartan and seemingly former New York Giant Plaxico Burress, I can’t help but think, “Barkley hit this one on the head.”

Let me begin by saying, all of the athletes I mention in this article I have never met or had an extended conversation with. They may very well be great men who have stumbled along the way.  That being said, professional athletes should not be role models for our children or us as a society.

Along with the misfortunes of Burress (self inflicted misfortunes I might add; pun intended), there have been countless athletes that have given credence to Barley’s theory.

Adam Jones, Michael Vick, OJ Simpson, and countless others have all proven their lack of judgment in the past.

For this, I neither condemn or try and rationalize their motives or problems in their past. What I will take note for is that because they can play sports with the best athletes in the world, this makes them, at least in a role model light, no different than myself, my father, my family, friends or anyone walking this earth.

We portray these individuals on a pedestal of greatness as human beings without even meeting or interacting with them. On playing fields across the world coaches should be saying “Mimic Burress’ speed, route running, and agility” everyday to young receivers as they try and become better athletes.  Off the field we should encourage our children or loved ones with motivation such as “Yes admire your mother and father for the hard work and moral values they try and instill in you each day.” And if there is a lacking in that area, there are countless others we can turn to; teachers, clergy, family, friends.

The point being is that, while many professional athletes compete for decades and never once involve themselves in a situation such as the aforementioned athletes, still doesn’t classify them as roles models. If we never meet them, learn from them or truly discover what defines that person, we’ll never know what kind of role model they may or may not be.

We as fans and in the media should look for these players to entertain and awe us with their ability, not to teach our kids or ourselves about how they should approach their lives and strive to be the best person they can be.

Click Here: Are athletes role models? If so, how will this situation and others like it affect your perception?