Role Models Essay, Research Paper
Spitting, head butting, kicking, cursing; these are not reactions kindergartners have in temper tantrums; these are actions of our “professional” athletes. Each day, millions of children look up to these athletes as role models. Little boys and young men, males and females imitate their every move. Their on-court heroics inspire many to practice harder everyday. Athletes, as the media depicts them, exemplify phenomenal strength and stamina for which many people strive. People want to fly like Mike , hit like Jr. , and run like Deion ; however, when the play ends, many athletes’ true personalities make them poor role models. Just imagine what a little leaguer may be thinking while watching his role model spit on an umpire after an unfavorable call? What does that teach the children? What about when a young ball player watches his hero kick a photographer at the side of the court? In today s society, the primary source for role models is professional sports. Many athletes do not want to be role models, but are forced into it by the media. Charles Barkley once said about athletes as role models, “Professional athletes should not be role models. Hell, I know drug dealers who can dunk. Can drug dealers be role models too?” Mr. Barkley was upset with the fact that society had made him into a role model based solely on his star status. Whether it is underwear commercials, sneaker advertisements, or french-fry endorsements, athletes are always in the spotlight, so they are looked up to by children and adults alike. Today s role models have undisputed athletic ability, but all too many times, are only a bright red peel on the rotting core of the American role model apple.Bingham – 3Since the Greek sport competitions to the latter part of the twentieth century, appropriate behavior, which included achieving set goals, working for a meaningful cause, and setting benchmarks for good sportsmanship, was commonplace in society. Athletes were noted for their acts of generosity and their civility that they displayed on and off the field. Most of the time sports figures were role models, who wanted to draw attention away from themselves, and redirect the energy into positive actions. Some of these figures put their prestige to use and address multiple concerns facing society. When Don Drysdale appeared on the Brady Bunch to teach Greg that grades were more important than pitching on the baseball team, this showed that role models cared for their fans. Other athletes’ intentions were focused on more worldly causes. The first African-American baseball player, Jackie Robinson, acted as a role model for all aspiring black athletes to follow. The late tennis star and first African-American to win Wimbeldon, Arthur Ashe, supported the anti-apartheid movement in Africa. Later, when he contracted the AIDS virus, he became an advocate for AIDS research and education. It is not entirely the athletes’ fault that their role model status is flawed. If you look at a super star athlete, you will see a person in the mid-twenties, right out of college, making more money in one game than most people make in a year. These people come from almost poverty roots and quickly climb to instant fame. When they are thrust into the spotlight, they act irrationally due to the large amounts of pressure
Bingham – 4upon them. They are young and do not know how to act in these situations. In fact, they are just kids forced to become the role model they often did not have. Many people, parents, teachers, and coaches are quick to blame the athletes for being corrupt, when in fact they themselves are not doing their part to be role models for the children. Along with some parents, teachers, and coaches, the media is also largely to blame for creating improper role models. Like starving dogs, they always seem to want to take the bigger bone. How many murders committed by normal people did not make the front line of the newspaper in the past two years because there were developments in the O.J. Simpson cases, such as DNA evidence or pictures of shoes? How many athletes were shown being questionably acquitted for drug abuse, domestic violence, or other crimes that would be otherwise unforgivable.The days are long gone when major athletes were real people. The athlete’s new role in society is one of endorsements, media blitz, and hype. The more attention they draw to themselves the better, despite what is morally correct. While leaders who happen to be athletes, are forgiven for their wrongdoings over and over, the politician is voted out of office and the worker in private industry is fired. Why do Dennis Rodman’s head butts and Tonya Harding’s violent attacks receive more publicity than Mother Theresa’s or Jimmy Carter’s work for world peace. The role models the media choose to present to us should be more scrutinized. The media should try to focus more on and highlight morality instead of worrying about sweeps week and the bottom Bingham – 5line. Declining morals and values in our society are directly linked to the visualizations and reports the media choose to depict. In the end, we are all somewhat responsible for the lack of quality role models in our society. We rely on others to parent our children and then blame them when our children cause problems. We allow ourselves to believe in the illusion that what someone does on the sports field or on the television are what those people are made of. We refuse to look deeper and see them for what they really are, out of the spotlight, in their everyday life. Rather than looking to the headlines or the television for our role models, we should be looking at the volunteer at the Salvation Army, the caring kindergarten teacher, or the loving parent to be our true role models. A true hero is someone who is willing to sacrifice when there is no promise of publicity or reward, and a real role model is a true hero indeed.