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Professional Athletes As Role Models Essay

Everyday today’s youth are asked what they want to be when they grow up. Some say teachers, firemen, police officers and a large response to that question is a professional athlete. Something that all these professions have in common is that they are all role models to children. Firemen, teachers, police officers have an easy job at doing this; they are after all the people that save children, teach children and protect children.

But professional athletes on the other hand have a difficult task assigned to them when it comes to being role models. Professional athletes are not given an option as to be a role model or not. Just because they have a special gift does not make them have to be looked up to. Professional athletes are not good role models because of the things they do off the court, the false identity they put on, and because of the fact that in a lot of instances they are just an image on TV.

A role model is a person who is looked up to by a younger person because that person sets good examples and is an ideal model of where a child should be later in life. Role models play a big part in everyone’s life. For some they are a parent, some an older brother and like I said earlier some are firemen, policemen and teachers. Athletes are considered to be role models to many people across the world. Professional athletes are people who can do something athletic extremely better than any other person.

They can run faster, throw harder, hit further and jump higher than anybody else. This is what makes them professionals. They don’t save lives, protect people from harm or do things that really have a severe impact on people. Professional athletes are just people with better athletic ability than others. It is a job for them to perform on a daily basis, whatever skill they have. They don’t get paid to be role models, they get paid to run fast, throw hard, hit far and jump high.

The issue at hand is whether or not being a professional athlete automatically makes them a role model. There are arguments for both sides. Some say they are considered to be role models because of all the hard work they put in and the payoff they get, and another reason people believe athletes are good role models is because of the things they do off the court which, helps people. This is an important issue because not all professional athletes are prepared to become role models and many young people look to them to be their role model.

Sheila Globus is a person who thinks Athletes are role models and good ones at that. In her essay “Athletes as Role Models” she claims that Athletes set good examples for the children of today. They do a lot of charity work, volunteer to help kids get better educated and other means of action which help kids. Another reason she says athletes make good role models is because they work hard and have a good work ethic. This is something that children can look up to and follow in the same paths. She refers to Jackie Robinson in her essay to show how all is hard work paid off and made him become the first African American to play the game baseball. This is just one of the examples Globus states in her essay which show why professional athletes make good role models.

Sheila Globus states in “Current Health 2” “Many high-profile players work hard to be positive role models to children. They raise money for charities and act as mentors, talking to student groups and volunteering their time to programs that help kids stay off drugs and stay in school”.(25) There is no doubt that athletes do these things in their free time. I agree, but not all professional athletes do so. Some professional athletes do this but a majority of them are out partying and spending the millions of dollars they make in their free time. A good proportion of professional athletes don’t want to waste their time helping out others when they have their own free time.

Globus’s argument is not valid because she is way too broad when she states many high-profile players in her claim. There are way too many high-profile players in this world who don’t and never would do such a thing as volunteer time. If she were to give a percentage of athletes who do this it could be more valid.

After looking through all the research I have done I have found more high-profile players who have done time in jail than have done for a charity. For instance, Kobe Bryant was recently on trial for the rape of a young girl in Colorado. Mike Tyson was in jail for physically harming is wife, not to mention biting the ear off of Evander Holyfield. Leon Lett of the Dallas Cowboys was put to jail for selling cocaine. All these professional athletes are people that kids know. They don’t know the guys who are spending their free time helping a charity.

Athletes should not be role models because of the things they do off the court or field. They do way too many bad things that youth hear about which might make them want to follow the same path. According to Gary Sailes in his essay “Professional Athletes: Cultural Icons or Social Anomalies:” 16 players from the 2001 Super Bowl were involved in a crime one way or another.

Those crimes range from drunk driving to assault to murder threats. These are things that everyone hears about. A child may not be a fan of a football but sooner or later he/she is going to turn the TV and notice a player going to jail. If athletes are supposed to be role models, going to jail is not a good thing. Society can’t say professional athletes should be role models when they are getting put away in jail. This is why athletes should be looked at just like any other person and not as a role model to children.

Another reason why athletes should not be considered role models is because they put on a false identity. Ashley Brown in her essay “Are Players Role Models?” from the Ohio State U-Wire states “Although the media reports both the public and private lives of professional athletes, what we learn about those athletes is for the most part what they want us to learn.

With some obvious exceptions ‘-Dennis Rodman and Mike Tyson ‘- most players attempt to portray themselves in a positive light when in public.”(3) I agree with her on this claim. People really don’t know what a professional athlete is like when they are not in the camera. We shouldn’t have children admiring someone who puts on a phony face for everyone else. A role model is someone that is looked up to at all times, not just when they are in the public eye for doing some good deed.

Another claim as to why athletes make bad role models is because what they do is a job and has no significance whatsoever on a child. A child may have a favorite player on the field or court but what they do there has nothing to do with being a good role model. A professional athlete might show the child how to hit a baseball better or throw a ball further but according to Rick Telander “The Wrong People For The Job” in Sports Illustrated “None of an athletes skills have much value away from the playing venue.”(108) He is absolutely correct. Why does a professional athlete have to be considered a role model because he can throw better than other people or do some other skill better than other people? My answer to that question is that he doesn’t but according to a lot of people in society he is.

Charles Barkley said it best in a Nike commercial one time. “One Role Model to Another” “I am not a role model! I’m a professional basketball player. I am paid to wreak havoc on the basketball court. Parents should be role models.”(84) Barkley was one of the best players of his time. He played on the first ever “Dream Team” in the summer Olympics. These words cause a lot of comossion but Barkley did not care. He stuck to his gut and stood up for what he believed in. Parents are the ones who should top every kids list of role models. They are the ones that their kids see everyday and see the real actions taken by them. A child’s parents teach them about life and help them get through problems they might have. How is Charles Barkley or any other professional basketball player going to teach a child when all they are to them is a guy on a basketball court?

Another reason why professional athletes should not be considered role models is because professional athletes don’t really represent the country; a lot of them play only for the money and forget about the pride. Peter Trovato in his essay from the University of Massachusetts Daily Collegian “Today’s Role Models Disappoint”, “There are millions of people who represent success in the country; they work as teachers, nurses, firefighters and engineers├É’–the true American Dream.”(76) These are the people we should want our children to look up to. They are what make the United States the best country in the world. Like I said before, these people save us, protect us and teach us how to be the best we can be. Athletes can only do that for us by helping us improve our jump shot or catch a football on the field.

Ashley Brown also states in her essay “Are Players Role Models” these same people, nurses, teachers, firemen etc. are the true models of this country. “Those who have chosen to make their life’s work helping others, are special and deserve the respect and admiration of others much more so than someone who plays a game for a living.”(4) Athletes are an image on TV. Children rarely get to meet them. In fact some children might not even know other professional athletes outside of their city or state. But when a child is out of his city or state he will always know he can count on a nurse or fireman or police officer to do his/her job and protect them from any harm. Athletes can’t do this and that is why they should not be viewed as role models.

Professional athletes are targets to some things other role models are not. People know professional athletes make good money. Everywhere they go girls are adoring them and trying to sleep with them. Some athletes man up and let these women know they are happily married with kids and turn down the girls, but a lot of players don’t do this and end up having some type of sexual relation with the girls. Guys try to get into fights with athletes because they know they have money and afterwards they can go press charges. Gary Sailes states in “Professional Athletes: Cultural Icons or Social Anomalies”, “Being in the limelight presents a specific set of pressures for professional athletes, especially those who are very well known.”

Everything that players do is looked at by fans as either good or bad. When men or women go to athletes and set them up for trouble it is not their fault. Kids may not understand this but grown ups can. Athletes get in trouble sometimes for things they didn’t mean do to. Instead of trying to explain every time an athlete gets into trouble, we should just treat them like any other person and let them deal with it themselves. Kids should not want to grow up to be put in a position where they can be set up and financially hurt in the long run like professional athletes do nowadays.

In conclusion, professional athletes are looked upon as role models by many of today’s youth. Parents, teachers, brothers, sisters need to step up and let them know that admiring an athlete is not what they want to do. Professional athletes are just that. They are the best at whatever sport they play. They never signed a contract to be a role model, only to play a game. Society can’t ask a professional athlete to be a role model because most of them can’t do it.

If every person who plays a professional sport had to do charity, visit schools, tutor kids, and so on, then yes they can be considered good role models. But all professional athletes do is play a game. Some take the time they have and actually do some of the mentioned things, but not all of them do. That is why we can’t and should not have professional athletes be role models to our kids. Since every athlete is not the perfect model, we can’t just ask some athletes to be role models. It has to be all or none and we are far from all.

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