, Research Paper
WHY ATLETES ARE GOOD ROLE MODELS!
Ever since the ancient years, we have admired athletes and the hard work that they do to
achieve their goal of winning. We idolize them and wish we were more like them. What
happens though when the realization sinks in that they are human too and that some of them do
get greedy and selfish? A lot of athletes are model citizens that you should really look up to, but
there are also some bad apples in the bunch that ruin it for everyone. Athletes can inspire young
people to work hard so that their efforts can pay off, but no one is pure and flawless. Greed
does take a hold of some players, but they shouldn’t be the ones we devote all of our attention
to. We should look at the positive things that people do. The media does not go around
reporting all of the good things that these people do, just the bad things and their mistakes. They
are only human just like the rest of us. Are these people safe for our children to idolize to look
up to? I think that the answer is YES!
If you were watching the news, would you really want to hear about all of the charities
that an athlete has donated money to? It would be interesting at first, but you would get tired of
it afterwards. That is why the media never covers anything like this. We all know that they really
don’t care about anything else except for a hot topic. The truth really does not mean anything to
them. This we notice in all the cases that the media jumps to wrongful conclusions, such as the
Richard Jewel case and the Olympic bombing and the TWA flight 800 that blew up over New
York. The media jumped to numerous conclusions that had us lost. Do you think these people
worry about what fund raiser Michael Jordan attended and about what Shaquille O’Neal did on
Thanksgiving for the needy? No. They are more interested in what color Dennis Rodman’s hair
is and what he wore last night at Excalibur.
I had to go through days of research to find out that Chicago Bears star Chris Zorich has
started a full scholarship at Notre Dame for inner city youths that get accepted to the school, but
can’t afford it. He plays for our city’s football team, and we have not heard of any of his
philanthropic efforts. He also has an annual food drive for the needy around Thanksgiving. I
read about that in a little column in the newspaper. Would he have been accused of theft or
assault, he would have had a front page article and the whole back page of the Chicago Sun-
Times to himself. Shaquille O’Neal bought over 1,000 turkeys and gave to needy families all
across the nation on Thanksgiving. I did not hear one mention of that in the news. They are
making us believe that all athletes are bad people with their propaganda. If they spent half the
time covering the good-hearted stories that they do the bad ones, we would have a different
opinion on the hard working athlete.
Michael Jordan has started a foundation that donates money for research to help
physically challenged children. He has been running up the tabs at Atlantic City casinos, but who
hasn’t gambled? We are not perfect. Michael may gamble, but he does his share of helping and
works hard for what he has acquired. Gambling is no crime, so then he is not showing us a
negative thing. If parents disapprove of him gambling, then they should outlaw it because he is
not doing anything wrong. Michael, and other athletes as well, is aware that he is constantly
being watched by millions and tries to act accordingly.
There has been a major controversy in the NBA lately thanks to Charles Barkley and his
claim in an interview that he is not a role model, but that is the job of the parent. He says that
parents shouldn’t be blaming the athletes if they can’t control their own children. Another person
that agrees with this notion is football and basketball star Deion Sanders. Barkley has paid over
$80,000 in fines over a period of two years. He is known for getting very aggressive and violent
at times. No one is asking Barkley to give all his money away to charity, but to do what other
stars do, realize that all these people look up to you and show some restraint. Nobody is forcing
athletes to be good people, we just want some of them to use better judgement.
One person that honestly thinks that ball players do serve a role as models for the kids and
should live up to it is Vincent Lamont Baker of the Milwaukee Bucks. He is the best all round
player on the team and one of the most versatile in the league. He is said to be the symbol of
what the NBA is really trying to sell: “good players who are even better people.” An excellent
role model for black youth is Dave Bing. He was elected into the NBA Hall of Fame in 1989 and
is now the CEO of Bing Steel, a firm that had $61 million in sales in 1991and was ranked tenth in
the United States among black-owned industrial and service companies. He now donates a lot of
his time and money to various charities.
Football player Orlando Pace sits with 6th grade children in their school library and helps
them read. His message was “Yes, I have had some athletic ability and talent, but studying is
what’s really important.” He also said that he doesn’t think of himself as a role model, but he is
doing the right thing because he knows that there are people looking up to him and he wants to
show them something positive. I couldn’t believe all of the things he does for children and then
says that he doesn’t think of himself as a role model. Most of these players are just doing their
job. But he realizes that people do look up to him and that is why he tries to set a good example.
If only all of the players would think that way, then there wouldn’t be any problem in the athletic
The most influential player that I have found is Mo Vaughn of the Red Sox. He does
community service and gives kids autographs. He has impressed everyone with his poise,
dedication, and his appetite for work. Vaughn takes the time to talk to groups of schoolchildren,
urging them to stay in school. Vaughn also plans youth centers to keep kids off the streets and
signs and sends get-well cards. He also uses the proceeds from formal autograph-signings to
fund cultural events that are denied to poor children. I wish I knew why I never heard about this
on the news or read about it. It would be different if Mo Vaughn got accused of something.
Arthur Ashe was just as influential. He was the only black man to win the U.S. Open and
Wimbledon. He protested apartheid and launched a $5 million fund-raising campaign and
questioned the lack of government funding for research of AIDS.
It is hard to think that any athlete is good with all of the headlines that you hear about
today. The media just covers the athletes that are acting like sports entertainment celebrities.
William Bennett, the Bush’s administration drug czar, is enlisting pro athletes to help him fight
the war on drugs. He assumes that they are held to higher standards of conduct than other
people because they serve as role models. Everyone is aware of the role that these athletes have.
We should not look at the inappropriate actions of few athletes. I was biased to believing that all
athletes are bad before I started doing my research for this paper. Then I found all of the good
things that numerous players have done to help others. Just because they want to help doesn’t
mean that we should expect them too because they are only human. We should not have athletes
as scapegoats if children are resistant and defiant. Those are responsibilities of the parents.
Just because there are some bad people in sports today doesn’t mean that we should generalize.
We have had some bad presidents also, but we don’t hate all of them. Some of them work hard
to contribute something to us just like professional athletes do. We just have ot remember that
they are human just like us and that Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman aren’t gods just because
they have a lot of money. They worked hard for it so let them enjoy it.