Athletes: Should They Be Role Models?

Steve ChottCorrespondent IFebruary 28, 2009

Growing up as a kid, every person has someone they want to emulate. This person may be a relative, an actor, or an athlete. We need people to admire. But now we see so many poor role models. People who take steroids, get DUI's, and fight are people we should not be idolized.

In the last several years, kids who liked football looked up to Michael Vick. Vick was an amazing athlete on the field. An athlete that many kids wanted to be.

But off the field, Vick had many problems. In 2007, after a loss, Vick gave the Atlanta fans a disgruntled middle finger while leaving the game. Then, in 2008, Vick was charged in a dog-fighting case where he participated in a dog-fighting ring that pitted dogs against each other and killed dogs that performed poorly. Both of these things are illegal. Would you want your kids to look up to Michael Vick? No.

Some of the best players in baseball are also not setting a good example. Alex Rodriguez just admitted to using steroids. Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire are likely steroid users.

Last year, we all watched the Cinderella story Rick Ankiel as he rose up from being thrown to the minor leagues due to being a head case.

Then, he tested positive steroids.

How can we tell kids not to take steroids if their role models are using them?

Last month, we saw something that no one could have predicted. Olympic hero Michael Phelps was caught smoking a bong at a party. Phelps, who swam amazingly during the Olympics, ruined his image. He was no longer a squeaky clean athlete. Once again, we do not want kids to follow this example.

So, should children look up to athletes? On the field, yes. Off the field, no. On the field, their hard work is a good example for children.  But, off the field, their poor judgment should not be imitated.

Still, are all athletes bad role models? No. We see people every year who stay out of trouble and put forth a great image such as Derek Jeter, LeBron James, and Tom Brady. They do there business on the field and do no wrong off of it. There are also people like Kurt Warner who help out with charities.

My point is that children should look up to athletes, but they should not replicate their behavior. Everyone screws up sometimes but it is obvious you do not want to be Plaxico Burress and shoot yourself. Or shoot yourself with steroids like Barry Bonds. Be a good clean athlete.