Athletes not paid to be role models

By Jazzy Davenport

When I sit and check sports news outlets for the most recent updates, I cannot help but be reminded of how athletes shouldn’t be seen as role models.

We view these athletes as heroic because of their abilities in sports. They perform for us. They entertain, but when the game ends, they are not superhuman.

Every time I watch my favorite news station or check a Web site, there always seems to be a story about how an athlete has made a poor decision. Whether it is Tiger Woods’ infidelity, Mark McGwire’s steroid confession or most recently, Allen Iverson’s alleged gambling and alcohol addiction or Ben Roethlisberger’s two sexual assault accusations, athletes continue to remind us that they are just human beings who happen to be in the spotlight.

I have been a victim of disappointment when it comes to my favorite athletes.  So many athletes like Michael Jordan, Marion Jones, Michael Phelps and, yes, Tiger Woods have let me down over the course of their respective careers.They have all shown us just how human they are by engaging in something as minute as infidelity and divorce or something as big as lying about taking performance-enhancing drugs, or simply being careless by being photographed with a bong.

Nowadays, it is more important than ever before that parents step in and become role models for their children. We as a society need to place less value on entertainers such as athletes and celebrities and hold ourselves more accountable.  We have given these entertainers way too much power and allowed our youth to idolize them. It is time the older generation steps up to the plate and becomes more responsible.

Though I believe athletes should behave better because of the attention that inevitably comes with their job and the impact they have on youth around the world, they only have as much power over children as parents allow.

Sure, athletes demonstrate great qualities that can be teaching tools to young children, including pursuing your passion, perseverance and resilience, diligence, commitment and hard work. However, a true role model should be someone accessible and close to children.

Children risk falling victim to disappointment every time they choose to place these flawed human beings on a pedestal. It is OK to enjoy them in their quest to master their individual craft, but once the buzzer sounds, children should cling to someone close to them.  Athletes are paid to win—not raise children.