Like it or not, athletes are role models

By Anthony Rhoads

I remember several years ago that former NBA great Charles Barkley said that athletes weren't role models.

I can't recall the exact quote but that was the gist of it n that athletes weren't role models.

Are athletes role models? Whether or not we, as sports fans, want to admit and whether or not the athletes want to bear the responsibility for it, the answer would have to be yes. Athletes are definitely role models.

I am not exactly thrilled to say that.

I firmly believe that parents should be the ultimate role models. That is where kids get most of the values (both good and bad) that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

If a firm foundation is not laid at home, the chances of a child growing up to be successful, productive, law-abiding members of society are greatly diminished. That is not to say that kids can't come out of bad situations but it has been statistically proven and it just makes common sense that kids who grow up in solid, two-parent homes will do better in life than kids who don't come from that environment.

Teachers should also be viewed as role models. Once kids get to school-age, they then spend more time with their teachers than they do with their own parents.

The role that teachers play is vital to the development of these kids. Often, teachers make the difference when a child's home life is a wreck. A lot of times, teachers are there even when the parents don't care.

When it comes to their value to society, teachers really should be the ones who are getting the multi-million contracts and not the pro athletes.

But in reality, we all know that kids are going to look up to athletes, singers, actors and other people who are in the public eye and who are viewed as rich and successful.

Just about all of us have looked up to athletes when we were younger.

Growing up, I idolized Dale Murphy and to an extent I still do, but for different reasons.

Back in the early 1980s, I was drawn to how well he played the game of baseball. It was a thrill to see how he played the game and how successful he was individually, even if the Braves weren't winning.

But as a I got older, I learned more about his character and I feel like I couldn't have picked a better favorite baseball player.

I really respect the way he conducted himself off the field. I read an article where a sports writer was going to dig up some dirt on Murphy and the worst thing he could find was that he had gotten a speeding ticket once.

But guys like Murphy seem to be the exception rather than the rule.

Rather than use their fame and money to be a positive influence on society, its seems like most pro athletes don't care about setting a good example for kids.

I don't expect these athletes to be saints because it has got to be massive challenge to walk the straight and narrow when you're young, famous and have millions of dollars. But they need to think a little bit.

Whether they like it or not, kids look up to them and are going to emulate their behavior ? both their good behavior and bad behavior.

Pro athletes are role models and they need to act accordingly. They need to exhibit behavior that will keep them in the box scores and out of the police reports.

Anthony Rhoads is a sports writer for the Daily and his columns appear on Wednesdays. He can be reached at arhoads@news-daily.com or sports@news-daily.com .