It's 10 PM... Do You Know Who's Raising Your Kids?
Professional athletes ARE role models, but should they be?
Being a professional athlete comes with tons of responsibility & there’s no arguing that. As celebrities, they represent their families, teams & leagues on the world stage. Especially in today's society, where information moves quickly & reaches anybody with an internet connection, athletes being role models can become very problematic. One slip up can ruin their reputation just as fast as it can influence a kid to follow in those wrong steps. Who's raising your kids? Professional athletes should not be our youth's role models.
It's Human Nature
It’s natural in human nature to seek out guides, role models, leaders, mentors, etc. As kids, we all have dreams & aspirations. Whichever path we think we want to take, we find people in that field of work to look up to. Honestly, we still do this as adults. Being an athlete since I was young, I definitely looked at certain athletes as role models.
I chose to only follow their footsteps when it came to their profession, though. It didn't matter what a player did off the court or field because I was only worried about how hard they worked, their resilience, their sportsmanship, etc. Those types of traits were the only ones that influenced me. Professional athletes showed me these every day & I learned tons of life lessons from being a sports fan & athlete since my youth.
The issues arise when we consider their personal lives as well. No parent wants their kid to look up to a professional athlete who doesn't carry themselves as a professional, always gets into trouble, or just isn't a leader & good person in general. Unfortunately, this happens far too often. A lot of parents probably don't even know who their kids are idolizing and following. Or, we get tricked. An athlete will seem like the most stand up person in the league & then BOOM they get caught making a mistake or their actions catch up to them.
I don't think Mike Vick is a bad person or even a bad role model because he handled his mistakes like a man & did what he could to right his wrongs, but he's a good example here. Tons of kids looked up to him. The highlights, the swag, the game-changing ability, succeeding in the NFL as a black mobile quarterback; Vick was the ultimate package to be a role model for kids, especially those who look like him.
Then one day he gets slapped with his charges. All of the parents who supported their kids idolizing Vick had to question their judgements now. Why was Vick the role model in the first place when nobody in the house knew him personally or knew anything about what he's up to aside from playing football? This happens all the time.
The key is to make sure the youth aren't following an athlete's personal life choices, because we don't know these people. I'm all for looking up to hard work & modeling your game after an athlete & his/her leadership traits. We need to stop worrying about what they do in their personal lives, & we definitely shouldn't let their personal lives influence us & especially not our youth.
Which Athletes Are Our Role Models?
This world runs on money, power, & influence. Just like the media can influence how we eat, the media can choose our role models for us too. The best players will be the most popular players. The most popular players will be the most idolized players. The most idolized players become the role models. Notice something wrong with that picture? This is why an athlete like Kwame Brown never had a chance to influence our youth while he was in the NBA.
We aren't looking at what an athlete stands for outside of their arena when choosing our athletic role models. It's mostly influenced by who the best athletes are. Kids aren't idolizing NFL players like Chris Long, Calais Campbell, or Thomas Davis Sr; all of whom have won the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year award which honors a player's charity & volunteer work.
Granted, there are some guys who have won the award in recent years who are definitely idolized, mostly due to their star power as athletes but their charitable work is also widely recognized; JJ Watt & Russell Wilson, for example. The thing is, if JJ Watt wasn't a superstar on the field, we probably wouldn't know too much about his charity work.
Who's Raising Your Kids?
I'm not going to shine a bad light on any athletes, but we all know there are examples of athletes who are superstars in their respective sport, but should never ever be a role model for children. Children are influenced so easily, & with social media they get to see so much more of an athlete's personal life than previous generations.
These athletes now have the power to influence just about every aspect of a child's life; & it's not the athletes' faults. That's why I think this is such an important discussion. If a professional athlete absolutely has to be your kid's role model, picking the right one is essential. Like I said earlier, one slip up can influence a kid to follow those wrong steps just as much as it can hinder the athlete's reputation.
I do believe athletes have somewhat of a responsibility to carry themselves in a positive manner, considering the kids & people in general who look up to them. However, if an athlete doesn't agree, they shouldn't have to. I'm all for letting people live life how they want to. If Kyrie taking some time off with family is influencing a child to be less responsible or accountable, the parents should step in & raise their kid instead of Kyrie being responsible to do so.
Athletes Didn't Sign Up To Raise Your Kids
Young athletes look up to professional athletes. Some people look to actors, musicians, artists, etc depending on their interests. These people automatically become role models whether or not they want to be. Is that fair?
Many athletes & celebrities in general have stated that they don’t want to play the role model role. Charles Barkley is a name that comes to mind when thinking about this. This is his famous Nike commercial from 1993 in which he states he is not a role model. His full quote from the commercial:
I am not a role model. I am not paid to be a role model. I am paid to wreak havoc on the basketball court. Parents should be role models. Just because I dunk a basketball doesn't mean I should raise your kids.Charles Barkley
Barkley's Dream Team teammate, Karl Malone, said this in response:
Charles... I don't think it's your decision to make. We don't choose to be role models, we are chosen. Our only choice is whether to be a good role model or a bad one.Karl Malone
Neither of them are wrong. Which brings me to my point..
Choose Better Role Models
Your role models should be people you know in real life. How can you follow someone without even knowing who they are as a person when not in front of the cameras? Our role models should be a teacher, coach, parent, friend, friend's parent, parent's friend, etc. Find a role model that can directly impact you &/or your kid's life with advice, wisdom, assistance, etc. The professional athletes can teach you all about hard work & dedication; that's undisputed. Few will also teach you how to be a great person, because professional athletes just simply aren't in a position to do so.
Need a positive influence on hard work & dedication? There's a long list of athletes to choose from. Need a positive influence on life? Choose somebody you know in real life. If you're absolutely settled on having a professional athlete role model to lead you in life, at least choose a guy like Tim Tebow.
It Starts At Home
I am not a parent & don't want to come across as naive to how difficult raising children can be. I know the youth will be influenced by many things outside of the home no matter how hard parents try to stop it from happening. It's human nature like I said. However, parents...please pay attention to what/who is influencing our youth. In today's day & age, kids are being attacked with marketing & these organizations will market role models to your children.
We don't know these 'role models' in real life. Do we know how they act behind closed doors when the cameras aren't rolling? No. But we do know why these organizations are propping certain athletes up to be the leaders of the youth. How can you trust that? How can you trust your kids being influenced by them? Introduce our youth to better role models. People who actually want the role & will actually come through as a positive influence.
Most of the points made can be applied to celebrities of any industry, but I wanted to focus on professional athletes because we are going to start discussing important issues in the sports world. Subscribe so you don't miss the release of our brand new sports show which is coming soon.