Monday, February 23, 2009

What Happened To The Athlete Role Model?

A Moose Track

Where to start? I mean, seriously, you see the title of the post--and you immediately say, "Oh no. I don't want to be reminded of things like this. Why did he find it necessary to do a whole post about it?" But, it's a legitimate question. What HAS happened to the athlete--or just plain celebrity in general--role model? Or, really, why has the role been filled with so much controversy?

I'll start with baseball. Steroids. Steroids. Steroids. It's cheating, we all know that. It started with Sammy Sosa and Mark Mcgwire--two men, known as two of the greatest hitters of all time, were in a home run race. They were both on their way to break the single season home run record. And they both did it. A few years later, it was discovered that they both took steroids. And, in front of the supreme court, all Mcgwire could say was, "I'm not here to talk about the past."

Umm, that's why you were there, Mark. And it was your own fault, too.

Barry Bonds, home run king--steroids. A cheater. Forever tainted. Disappointed all of baseball. The Mitchell Report. Over a hundred players took supplements and aren't being called out for it yet, it's confidential. But the deal is, they're out there. And in a leak, the newest revealed player will be the most important one: Alex Rodriguez.

A-Rod took 'roids from 2001-2003, winning the MVP award one of those seasons. It just makes me sick to my stomach, that these people would cheat just for personal glory. I mean, how do you live knowing that you were doing that? I mean, I wouldn't be able to. And, when he was on TV to apologize and fess up, he didn't really confess, blaming it on "youth and stupidity". I mean, it just gives me a headache. And there are still those 100+ guys out there.

Constant DUI's float around the sports' wire, from all sports. And I'm not just talking about sports. Illegal actions have been taken by countless actors, actresses, singers, anybody with a name. And they get jail time, fined, ridiculed--and the media seems to love it. Drugs, alcohol, reckless spending and assault/battery are only a few of the offenses that many musicians, actors or athletes have been convicted of.

The fact is, the people that were originally supposed to be role models, men and women to look up to, are becoming and have become criminals--definitely not role models. But they are, whether they want to be or not. And they can't control that. Shape up, celebs.

Or a whole new generation is gonna be just like you. Cheaters and felons.


POSTSCRIPT: Sorry if this post is a little angry and resentful. But that is exactly what I am. Sorry if the tone was a little harsh.


Yardbird said...

Moose, you and I are growing up in an odd period, one in which the most obvious role models are constantly under scrutiny and have the rug pulled out from under them at any opportunity.

Who knows, maybe our generation will grow to become the harsh, cynical one that is expected at this point.

Or maybe we'll be the generation more willing to look past human fault because that's what we had to do with our heroes.

Anonymous said...

Interesting and ironic, Moose, is Charles Barkley's old Nike ad... his "role model" one, remember?

Wow. I just amazingly found it on youtube and it's here in all its glory:

While I see the merit in the "I am not a role model" argument, the truth is that athletes are public figures who're admired a whole lot by many kids. And with this fame comes responsibility, like you wrote.

My opinion, however, is that while role models should definitely try to set good examples to the rest of us, they are human, too. Being a role model does not mean one is infallible.

So a role model making mistakes is perfectly fine in my book - be it a DUI, a gambling addiction, smoking marijuana (some might even argue that this isn't a "mistake"... it's not a mistake to Seth Rogen, who made a movie about it...). More important is how these athletes, as role models, recover and react from their mistakes. Therein lies the good example they must show.

LeoneL said...

it is said that if parents are good ones, they won't need these athletes to serve as role models for their kids.

sure, their kids would admire wade, phelps, barkley, and even a-rod, vick and burress for the way they play their respective game. but at the end of the day, they are more inclined to emulate what they see from their parents.

and when these athletes make a misstep, good parents should then tell their kids that what they have done is wrong and should not be looked up to. or is that as simple as that? :D

Moose said...

@ Yardbird: Your first paragraph is exactly what I was getting at. And I don't know what our generation's rep is going to be, all I know is that I won't be cynical and harsh, that's not how I roll. Just disappointed at times. As I am now with all of this, and I'm getting it out a little bit in this article.

@ Joeloholic: Yeah, I had the Nike ad in my mind the whole time while I was writing it. Personally, I disagree, as you already know, they are in the spotlight and there's nothing they can do about it. They ARE role models. As for the mistakes part. I know that it's completely human; fessing up completely is an important part of that (I'm counting out steroids on here, NO excuse for that in my book). And rehab, and whatnot. You make a good point, a great point. Being a perfect human being is not expected, and I agree with you 100%. But the media doesn't, and they will pounce all over you if you make one of these mistakes, and they will glorify it, rip you, and make it more important than it is. And then is where you have to be worthy of being a role model. They might as well just not get into trouble in the first place, haha.

@ LeoneL: IMHO, it is not as simple as that. Yes, their parents are a large influence. But they'll look up, see that "everyone else who's IMPORTANT is doing it" and they'll want to as well. That will happen with some kids; they wouldn't listen to their parents. Not all kids work the same way, really. I think that you're argument works for kids who are 11 and under. After that, I don't know.

Anonymous said...

The mainstream media has been downright sleazy in this regard. The Michael Vick case a year and a half ago was case in point, and that really sickened me.

CNN was cherry-picking a slew of hip hop music videos with big dogs barking at each other, and taking the chance to turn it into a racial thing, condemning hip hop culture. They got Jason Whitlock off his hallowed pulpit to wax lyrical about it, too.

@Yardbird: You know what, I honestly don't get why they're doing this - building up AND destroying role models just like this. Michael Phelps made the world fall in love with him - his game, his Sylar looks even - this summer. Every Chinese girl I know went gaga over him. And now they make a big fuss about his marijuana habits and humiliate him. What's the point? What's your take on this?

AR said...

You left out the fact that Lance Armstrong is very possibly a drugs cheat,ditto Usain Bolt.Obviously no proof,but these performance enhancers always seem to be miles ahead of the testers.

Ignoring the question of why should athletes be role models at all,which a lot of the time is down to lazy parents and media over-exposure.Athletes are role models,unfortunately,whether they like it or not,which is probably unfair to them.It's not their responsibility to raise a generation of kids.

Anyway,would the average NBA player nowadays be considered a good role model?Generally,they're materialistic,self centered and money-driven.A place where cheating on your wife is pretty much commonplace.Maybe it's a reflection on where society is.I dunno.But I do know that the quality of role model now is far better than what it was in the 80's.The players behaviour back then made a Zach Randolph night out look like a Bible reading at Jesus camp.The NBA had a horrible image with coke and just general hedonism.

Baseball should have no credibility at this stage anyway.The NBA is at the best its ever been image wise.Look at CP3,Nash and there are many others that kids can look up to as positive role models in a completely non basketball way.Should they?That's a different discussion.

The reason I think you think this,Moose(other than the jokeshop that is baseball) is probably the the way media exposure and interference into sportspeople's lives has skyrocketed over the last few years,with the increasing popularity of blogs and alternative sources of information people are now receiving their news on athlete's in a very different and odd way.
If A-Rod tells a passer-by to 'fuck off' or Michael Phelps had a really smelly fart one day,you'll most likely see it on Deadspin the next day,whereas in 1987,James Worthy could have had a five-way with five hookers,two of them Thai ladyboys and it wouldn't have made the news.

People care about stupid shit nowadays.

I really like Larry Fitzgerald.

BET said...

What Barry and Alex did WITH steriods is still special. You must remember that the guys throwing the pitches have arm stregth equal to professional wrestlers because they too are juicers. And if steriods really made you good, why arent all the minor leaguers who use in the MLB making huge paychecks? Because, they suck. Alex and Barry fused raw talent with steriods, and it worked for them, and is wrong.

I think that guys that built their careers on 'roids (ex: Mark McGuire and Jose Caseco) should get no where near the hall of fame and all their acomplishments should be wiped off the record books. However, the ones with hall of fame careers BEFORE steriods should have just their seasons where they use taken away from the record books THEN be judged for what they did clean. If you do that Barry and Alex might still make the Hall of fame.

Bud Selig wont do that, because this all happened on his watch, and the steriod users would sue him in civil court for damages to their egos. So if you keep the years they cheated as part of their achivements, none of them deserve to get in.

I hope that makes sence.

BET said...

i dont buy into the whole 'whatever athletes do is what the kids do' theroy. I think athletes should not do stupid things, for then it will reveal they are not as good people as they might pretend to be BUT i dont think it will cause anybody to aspire to go catch a DUI case in order to be like Charles Barkley. Anyone who says that something other than themself or their circumstances caused them to commit a crime is a liar and a chump. Only you can control your own fate, if you want to drive reckless and you happened to like Jason Richardson, dont say he influenced you. Say the truth, because blaming somebody else is the coward's way out.

Justin Walsh said...

athletes are and should be role models for athletics, but personally I don't think they should be for morality choices off the sports end of life. DUI's, drug busts etc, that's a private matter and to be real, parents should teach their kids about the moral choices, let athletes stick to educating the finer points of a reverse pivot jab step jumper.

Justin Walsh said...

and further more, I always hate how people say somebody sets a bad example when they get in trouble for something. Like Charles Barkley. He got arrested for being drunk and talking about blowjobs recently. No kid in their right mind thought getting drunk and joking about getting head with the police is okay. NOBODY. Any kid with a brain knows these things are wrong. Any kid who takes his moral p's and q's from an athlete is a fucking dolt. I'm sorry, you need to look up to proper people in the community.I mean really. I'm more upset when politicians get away with shit. Ted Kennedy basically murdered a woman (Chappaquidick anybody?) and he's still in the senate decades later. I think it's ridiculous to blame athletes for cultural occurances and crime. Blame athletes in baseball for steroids in HS kids, but don't blame them for DUI and drug rates in high school kids- blame the kids for being dumb enough to make the decision, then teach them the right way to correct the mistake instead of fuckin' the kid over in court

Anonymous said...

Yes. Why not blame the kids themselves, indeed, or their parents, right, for f*cking up?

I think it's easier and a lot less painful to point fingers at athletes, at video games, hip hop culture, rock music, etc. than to look at ourselves and realize that our culture and family dynamic are much more immediate influences on kids f*cking up.

When V-Tech happened, the media was all over blaming Korean violent movies for being an influence on the incident, but they downplayed the fact that Cho had moved to America at a very, very young age and had been schooled in America since elementary school - he very much was an American, and lived the North American way of life.

Honestly, until the day comes where we can stop vilifying athletes, politicians, celebs, and the like for our own mistakes and our own flaws, we're not going to move forward as a culture.

Yardbird said...


I think that many times, the building up and crumbling of the role model facade comes from an unwillingness or unreadyness to take on that responsibility.

Take Michael Phelps. I guarantee that most 23 year olds aren't willing or mentally prepared to be a positive role model to millions if not billions of children across the globe, no matter how talented they may be.

Moose said...

Thanks for your thoughts, guys. A lot of different opinions here and stuff, and that's really good. Thanks. One of my points are, we need more guys like Braylon Edwards. More guys like Ray Allen. You know what I'm saying?

Collin said...

couldn't agree more Moose.

Anonymous said...

In a way you have to feel bad for athletes. Because of their talent and situation, every move they make is carefully scrutinized and noted, not to mention ridiculed, criticized, and lampooned. I understand they're human and entitled to making mistakes; it's perfectly natural. However, with great power comes great responsibility. Our society demands perfection from our celebrities and heroes. They aren't allowed any room for error without being destroyed.

Luckily though, not everything is as bleak as you portrayed it to be. We got guys like Kurt Warner, who thanks God in every postgame speech for giving him his talent, even after losing the Super Bowl. Dwight Howard is another example, a guy who reacts positively to fans and sets an example not just for the media, but because that's how he truly is. In fact, one of his goals is to get the cross incorporated into the NBA logo.

Oh, and f*ck MLB. Absolutely disgusting

Justin Walsh said...

baconator- I like Kurt Warner because he does good in the community, I could care less if he thanks god. I know murderers who thank god, dogfighters who thank god. It doesn't require god to be a good person. Not to down any religion, just saying I'd rather the guy thanking god be a good cat. Kurt is, not downin broseph

AR said...

Thanking God and being outright with religion has nothing to do with being a good role model.Nothing.

BET said...

this is turning into a rant room and i sort of like it.

Anonymous said...

@Justin and AR: You're totally right; however, what I meant was the way Kurt accepted his defeat. He didn't speak with bitterness, he didn't throw a fit or complain. He accepted his loss gracefully and with dignity; I brought up religion cuz that's just part of how he did it

@BET: Believe me, ranting is a ton of fun, especially when you're tired as hell, haha

BET said...


Anonymous said...


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