Should Athletes Be Considered Role Models?

Reggie GarciaCorrespondent IApril 17, 2008

Ah, college essays, they can be a real pain in the ass sometimes. For anyone who has been to/currently attending college, you can bear with me in knowing the pain of research, cite, research, cite, continuously.

My English teacher assigned us a topic, and at first I felt a rush of anger, followed by the urge to cuss, but then I realized this could be a good thing. My topic was "Should athletes be considered role models?”.

Only then did I realize I can write a rough draft on Bleacher Report, beautiful.

Everyday I watch ESPN, and see Chad Johnson on TV and he seems to be complaining about something, whether it is his contract, the team's inability to reach the playoffs, or even Carson Palmer, the Bengal's Starting QB.

"Is THIS what athletes do nowadays?" I thought to myself; I know not all athletes are the same, but hell, you notice you almost always hear about the bad ones, doing bad things?

Some examples:

And all this leaves me asking one more question, "Where have all the heroes gone?"

Going back to Chad Johnson, I am not comparing him to Vick or Jones' crimes, but he is a horrible example of what an athlete should be. Cal Ripken Jr. is a model athlete in my eyes. Reason being is because he just did his job, day in and day out, like every other citizen. Of course with becoming a big leaguer the fame and celebrity comes right along with that, but some athletes are more honest than others, like Charles Barkley simply saying "I am not a role model!"

Growing up playing any sport I can get my grubby little hands on, I learned the true values of sports: Teamwork, Practice, Sportsmanship, and Being Honest in victory or defeat. Really, sports are built on those simple fundamentals; sports are a way to build character for young boys and girls nowadays. I can say I learned more during double days about myself than I did reading Macbeth; my character was developed. And sports bring more than just those lessons, they teach you to be healthy, dedicated to what you do, etc.

In today's culture, sports are more than what they have ever been. It's a right of passage, it is a way to get rich, it is a livelihood; lets face it, it’s bigger than life sometimes.

And in today's sports, a football player celebrates after a five yard gain; a boxer can threaten to eat an opponent's children, hell even an angry Pacer can rumble with the dude in the third row. And those are just some of the daunting things sports have.

Now dear reader, I hope you do not think I am against sports, or bashing on sports, or even think less of sports. I was that chubby kid that had put his pads on every morning in summer to earn a starting spot to try to dream those dreams. I understand the athlete today has evolved, bigger, faster, stronger, and richer. This article is intended to educate you that sometimes the media, the fans, the athlete, even the merchandise guy; we do not have the right idea of sportsmanship.

It should always be there. To ask Cal Ripken Jr. to be a father to a nation is unfair. He has enough of a burden being father to his own children. For us to ask anything else of him is simply a blessing.

A million dollars is chump change in today's sports. It is unbelievable that anyone can receive this amount of money to play a sport, but we have now entered the age of the $100 million player. And is anyone asking what impact this is having on our children?

In a society where value is determined by how much money you make, how much more important is an athlete in the eyes of children than a teacher, a police officer, a minister or parents who don't make in a year what many of these athletes make in a single game? Or how much more important is an athlete making $25 million a year than the President of the United States, who only makes $200,000?

What exactly are we teaching our children to value when we pay athletes these extraordinary salaries, and then allow many of these same athletes to break rules without punishment? Just get off scotch free.

I hope you have learned a bit from this, but most of all, I hope my teacher likes it.