I don’t spend much time highlighting or discussing opinion articles based on the sheer fact that they are just that―opinion. However, along comes this piece from Mark Yost in the Opinion section of the Chicago Tribune, Derrick Rose is no role model (here), that…well, just rubbed me a little bit the wrong way.
Now I am not going to take a position on whether Derrick Rose is a role model or not. I not only don’t have the information to state one way or the other, but it is not me, nor Mr. Yost, who gets to decide that.
It is the younger generation of up-and-coming athletes, and society as a whole, that dictate who will be looked up to as role models. Even the athletes themselves don’t get to make that distinction, contrary to what Charles Barkley has said and/or might believe.
However, the one thing I believe to be important in this role model discussion, the thing that seems to get lost in all the rhetoric, is that it is the athlete who should see themselves as a role model. Again, contrary to the Barkley train of thought―“I am not a role model” (SI Vault, Karl Malone).
It would be best for ALL concerned, at least from my perspective (and Karl Malone's, see SI Vault link above), that athletes, especially high profile ones, see themselves as role models and act accordingly, that they simply understand that it just comes with the territory of being a successful athlete.
When, by choice or not, society puts a person in a position where they could help others who might want to follow in their footsteps through the example they set, a position that tends to bring with it many other types of rewards (money, fame, prestige, etc.), that person should feel some obligation to hold themselves to some higher level of ethical standard.
Again, in an effort to be very clear, not society holding them to a higher standard, but THEM HOLDING THEMSELVES TO A HIGHER STANDARD!!!
Why??? Simply because they can make a difference!!!
Now, of course, they don’t have to. That is obvious by what we see going on, and to some extent, even in our youth sports environment. No one has to do anything they don’t want to, but it would be better if they did.
In fact, those that do show stronger character and are able to rise above the “muck” we see in today’s sports culture, set themselves apart as “individuals,” earn respect and admiration, and actually become someone worthy to aspire to be like.
And, I might add, that goes for anyone in the public eye, not just athletes.
And that brings me back full circle to Yost’s article and Derrick Rose. As my statements above indicate, I have a slightly different angle on this role model thing. In addition, I must take issue with a couple other conclusions in his piece.
I cannot support Yost’s inference that a student athlete should not set goals that are at the level of becoming an NBA player. When he states, “…the false promise that many of these kids can grow up to be just like Rose. It is simply a fairy tale,” that is exactly what the reader is left with―don’t set goals of this magnitude.
Let me give another, broader analogy. The percentage of high school athletes who achieve athletic scholarship to play college sports is around 2% according to the NCAA. Based on that percentage, it is unlikely a high school athlete will ever reach that goal. However, does this mean that because the likelihood of earning a scholarship is so small that that should never be a goal for them? Is it a goal based only in “fairytales?”
Using Yost’s same thought process, some would say yes.
Me, I’m not so sure…
Part II of Chicago Tribune “Opinion” Article on Chicago Bull Derrick Rose Slightly Bent coming Wednesday.