What is a Role Model?

What is a role model? According to The Oxford’s Dictionary Sports Science and Medicine, a role model is a person whose behavior and attitude conforms with that which society or other social groups expects of a person in his or her position, and who has become an example for others to copy. A true role model possesses the characteristics that affect a person to become better human being. There was a time when our role models were our neighborhood firefighters, policemen, and military veterans. These brave citizens are considered average men and women with death defying careers. A small percentage still see these people as role models but nowadays, most of our role models are actors, musicians, and athletes. These three career jobs are paid millions of dollars and are consistently covered on the internet, television, and radio. Even when celebrities think they are not being watched, someone is looking to imitate their actions.

“I am not a role model. Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids,” Charles Barkley, a former NBA superstar on the Phoenix Suns, once said. Barkley wasn’t talking about only himself but he was saying no athlete is a role model. Athletes will always be looked up to by kids who are inspired by them. Many kids have posters or trading cards of their favorite athlete and want to be just like them. More children want to be like Mike (Jordan) than wanting to be like Martin (Luther King, Jr.).

What makes an athlete a good role model? Athletes are all over the media world and can have a great influence on a young kid’s life. A good athlete role model will illustrate to kids nutrition and exercise, determination, sacrifice, team work, and charity. An athlete role model is physically fit and stays at the top of their game. Athlete has the drive and willpower to succeed with the many obstacles, and compete on a high-level night-in and night-out. Playing fair and showing good sportsmanship is a part of being a good role model. Athlete gives up many other fun events to get better at their craft and is disciplined towards their sacrifice. Athlete is not a selfish person by trusting their teammates and coaches. Athlete routinely donates money to many charities and volunteers for multiple causes. Also, a good role model shows kids to behave within society outside of sports because some kids may choose to listen to their favorite athlete over listening to their parents. Qualities such as honesty, integrity, self-control, humility, kindness, and generosity are very vital. So it is important that athlete watch what they do on and off the field of play.

What happened to our role models? Today, our role models set great examples of what to do in their career but are sometimes a negative influence outside of their career. That is not the case for every athlete but we tend to see the horrible impressions covering the pleasant ones. For example, Michael Vick was one the best and rising stars in the NFL from the time he was drafted. In 2007, Vick was indicted on federal charges for perjury and dog fighting (served 21 months in prison). Plaxico Burgess and Gilbert Arenas, NFL and NBA stars respectively, have been sentence in jail for gun charges. When we think of these athletes we don’t think of the good things they have done for their sport and society, we think of their mistakes and their bad decisions. Also, Barry Bonds, one of the greatest baseball players ever, was indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice concerning the government investigation of BALCO (a case about steroids, which is still ongoing as of January 2010). He has a great influence on baseball and the people that see him as role model. His actions off the baseball field have not only hurt his reputation, but his actions have also hurt his status as a role model. Yet some people still see him as a role model. This relates to one of my friends, whose favorite player happens to be Barry Bonds. My friend saw how big and strong Bonds got over the years so he did steroids. He did research on the effects of steroid but still decided to take them anyway because his favorite player took them and was successful. This shows how one negative influence a role model can have on the people that are inspired by them. Sometimes professional athletes make decisions without thinking of the kids; little do they know that kids watch their every step and try to imitate their actions.

Role modeling goes around in a life cycle from one person to the next whether positive or negative. For example, my role model is Dwayne Wade and his role model is Michael Jordan and so forth and so on. Most of the highly paid athletes come from a rough neighborhood with bad environment. The role models of the kids, in a crooked community, are mainly corrupt people. Athletes use their talent to get their family out of that situation. Even though they found a better home they still take away the things that they are accustomed to. For instance, Michael Vick has been dog fighting since he was a young boy and being a professional athlete didn’t stop him from doing from what he was used to doing. As well, Plaxico Burgess and Gilbert Arenas did not change some characteristics when they were brought to fame. They both come from a tough neighborhood and carrying a gun when they go out was normal.

Athletes are regular citizens but with more responsibility. If a professional athlete commits a crime they will be in the news for months (and maybe for their career) but if a person unheard of did the same crime they would be forgotten about after a couple weeks. This is because professional athletes have way more people scrutinizing them and are expected to make the right decisions since they are paid so much money. Everyone is a role model for someone else but one will never really know unless someone tells them how much they have inspired them.