Athletes As Role Models

Christopher JonesContributor IApril 15, 2010

After months of solitude, Tiger Woods has finally broken his silence. In a very scripted and planned out “press conference” Tiger finally addressed the auto accident and reports of him cheating on his wife with multiple (and multiple) women. Tiger stated that he is deeply sorry, and issued a special apology to those families who used to point to Tiger as a role model for their children. Tiger, the former golden boy of golf, has undoubtedly damaged his public image to such an extent that there is no way he will ever fully recover from it.

To our knowledge, Tiger was a perfect role model. A bright young man who went to Stanford, worked hard, and got to the top of his profession by doing all the right things. He always spoke well in interviews, and even came across with a nerdy good guy charm to him. He was an honorable husband with a gorgeous wife, and a proud and responsible father. Tiger had it all, he was perfect. Or so we thought..

That fateful November night, we were introduced to Tiger’s true colors. The man we thought was the perfect role model was infact someone who had just as many, perhaps even more, deep dark secrets as the rest of us. This is yet another example of a pro athlete ruining his status as someone young kids could look up to and model their lives after. But through all this, I came across what I believe is an even bigger question, should he ever have been considered a role model in the first place?

I am in no way condoning the actions of Tiger Woods. In all honesty, I find them completely repulsive. But I am disappointed in him as a person, not as a role model. Years ago when Charles Barkley first uttered the statement “I am not a role model” for the popular Nike commercial, he was speaking the truth. Professional athletes are not role models, they are exactly what their title entails, they are ATHLETES who are PAID to compete. Our society needs to get rid of this collective mindset that we all seem to share that pro athletes (because they are getting paid so much money and are all over television) must be model examples for the youth of our country. They don’t get paid to be little Timmy’s hero, they get paid to throw touchdowns and hit homeruns. It isn’t there job to be role models.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think it is awesome when a pro athlete does things that go above and beyond to do positive things in the community. When a player holds a benefit for a cause, or donates money to a local school, or anything of this nature, it is a very commendable and respectable thing to do. Those are great things for kids to emulate. But they are doing it because it’s something they believe is right, not because it’s something “they ought to be doing”. The argument that is absolutely outrageous to me like I stated above is that Pro Athletes owe it to their fans to be good role models. All pro athletes owe to their fans is to go out and try hard on gameday. That is it. They sign a contract to play sports, to win games. Professional Sports are a business; its athletes are its workers. The coach wont care that a player volunteers his time at a Hospital if he doesn’t produce on the field. An athlete might be the best person, the finest husband, the greatest Dad, but if he struggles on game day, everyone see’s him as a bum. These guys put in thousands of hours in the wieghtroom, destroy their bodies, spend time away from their families, all to earn their paycheck at the end of the day. On top of that, they also must be shinning examples of what is right and wrong? Ridiculous. I’m not saying that Pro Athletes have the green light to be horrible citizens because they produce on the field, I’m saying that they shouldn’t be put on this high pedestal because of their profession.

I don’t know what it is going to take for this mindset to disappear, but it needs to happen. It’s not fair to the athletes, and it’s not fair to the youngsters who are constantly disappointed when they find out their heroes aren’t the perfect citizens they thought they were. If parents are so concerned with making sure their children have good role models, they should look at themselves first, because a child’s parents should always be an example of how they should grow up to be.

……..and that is their job…..not the Athletes.