Is A-Rod a Symbol of a Bad Role Model or Why Athletes Should Not Be One?

Chuck Fiello Jr.Correspondent IFebruary 10, 2009

I can't escape the news, it's everywhere. So another major league player, who tested on the condition of anonymity, was revealed to have tested positive during a drug test in 2003 along with over 100 other players. So now I guess it's A-Roid instead of A-Rod.

Though then again, the list of players who weren't on the juice or a banned substance back then would probably be even shorter.

On top of all the press, there are editorials blasting him and how the luster and purity of the game is now lost. I contend that the perception of these moralities lies within the individual fans themselves and is the same as it has always been; such judgments are further proof these players should not be anyone's role model.

Every year I hear how these athletes are role models and tarnish the image of the game and a generation of fans. I am calling bull crap on this excuse for those who slip up.

I was a young athlete who every year looked forward to baseball season and playing on fresh cut grass surrounding a diamond of dirt that I tried my best to wear home every night. I had favorite players, I watched Baseball Bunch every Saturday and when I could, I watched the New York Mets or whatever game was on to enhance my enjoyment of the sport.

However, I NEVER idolized these athletes to the point that I had to do everything they did on and off the field; I was my own person.

When you tell me that a high school kid uses shortcuts because he wants to be just like these athletes, I have no problem telling you that I put this more on the coaches and parents for the pressure put on these kids to perform up to a certain level. If this kid had correct guidance and proper models around them, they would see that hard work can also pay off and much can be accomplished with that. 

Also, have strict guidelines in programs where people are punished no matter their ability when you see signs of trouble.  Ignoring signs of trouble because the player can hit home runs for you, only helps to promote the mentality that you can do anything to get that edge with little or no consequences.

Before people condemn me for such a response, I am not solely blaming parents; I am blaming all that surrounds that kid and the game itself. From parents who want a big pay day for their kid to coaches who believe in pushing through year-round training and nothing less than perfection to a system that promotes power numbers.

Ask yourself, what is more newsworthy in recent baseball history then home run records being pursued by larger-than-life athletes? Or who had the most devastating tackle in the last football game?

Very rarely do we emphasize the guy who out on the field contributing in other ways. How many times does a game's highlight reel consist of only power plays to fit it into a one-minute segment because it's what we crave and have been taught is the best symbol of a great play or players?   

So before we put A-Rod up on a pedestal to debate the merit of Hall-of-Fame credentials, maybe we need to further examine our own standards.

Is cheating wrong?

Yes it is and there are and should be punishments for those who cheat and are caught. But why do we also hang them out publicly for their actions and use them as justification to talk about how society is worse now for it?

If you want to buy merchandise or teach your kid to swing a bat like these athletes, that's fine; but please while you’re doing that, also teach them about why shortcuts don't always pay off and that there are many in Major League Baseball and in life who are better off because they chose the high road.

We don't need heroes and athletes to look up to as though they are on a pedestal, we need to find the individual within that child and teach them morale guidelines to make them better people who, if they happen to turn out to be star athletes, are all the more blessed for having those abilities.