Are Athletes Role Models?

Plaxico Burress is the latest start athlete to gain more attention for his off-field behavior rather than his on-field performance. Questions remain as to how the gun went off, why he had a gun, why the hospital never reported the gun-wound, and what Antonio Pierce did with the gun. Perhaps the biggest question after this mess is cleared; can these star athletes be role models even with their criminal lifestyles?

Athletes are celebrities now. They are the fastest, quickest, strongest, and toughest people on the planet. Kids look up to them, hoping to one day be them. Pretending to hit the game winning shot like Michael Jordan, or throw the game winning touchdown pass like Tom Brady, kids want to be the next star athlete. 

With the recent legal troubles of so many star athletes, the tag of athletes being role models has come into question. Sharon Stoll, a professor who studies the behavior of elite athletes, points out “the environment of athletics has not been supportive of teaching and modeling moral knowing, moral valuing and moral action.”

Athletes are not playing their part in serving as the role model. Ron Artest, Kobe Bryant, Michael Vick and Ray Lewis, are damaging the future of the youth that look up to them.

Just because these start athletes get a lot of media attention and make a lot of money does not make them role models. It is their profession. Sports is their job, and it just so happens their job is televised and under the microscope. As Charles Barkley once said during a press conference, “I am not a role model. Parents should be your role models.” 

Role models are the families that take in foster children, or the person that volunteers every weekend after working a 40-hour week. Athletes are not role models, they are celebrities. However, they are people, and people make mistakes. I’m not defending their criminal problems, but there are other people besides athletes that are in jail or have criminal records.



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2 responses to “Are Athletes Role Models?

  1. stevejfox

    Kevin —

    So, maybe athletes shouldn’t be role models but the reality is that children do look up to them. So, does the responsibility lie with the athlete to live up to that obligation?


  2. Scott Feldman

    Too an extent athletes have a responsibility, but as usual it is up to parents to insure children recognize atheltes for who they are.

    Just because a person has great physical talent does not make them great human beings. And parents do have to make sure kids know a 22 year old millionaire is not the ideal person to look at for an example of maturity.

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