By Danny Herz, 6 Points Sports Academy NC Camp Director
Charles Barkley said, “I’m not a role model. Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.” – I think Sir Charles was 100% correct.
The quarterback of the Super Bowl winning Denver Broncos, Peyton Manning, is television advertising’s darling. According to Forbes.com, Manning made $12 million in endorsements in 2015, making him the highest paid endorser in the NFL. Manning endorses DirecTV, Gatorade, Nationwide Insurance and Papa John’s. We all heard Peyton give a shout out to Budweiser after winning the Super Bowl – and it turns out he owns a Budweiser distribution center in Louisiana. The companies paying Peyton are no fools – they know that people listen to our beloved sports heroes and having them endorse products leads to bigger sales.
When news broke that Peyton Manning allegedly harassed the athletic trainer at the University of Tennessee while attending the University in the mid to late 1990’s. Millions of Americans are shocked that their hero with a squeaky clean image would do such a thing.
The part that I don’t get is why we are constantly surprised when one of our “role models” or “heroes” from the professional sports world do something either against the rules or against the law? Maybe Peyton isn’t what he portrays himself to be – or what the media portrays him to be.
Many of us remember a time when Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees was the top paid athlete and endorser in the USA. Turns out he wasn’t exactly squeaky clean, either – earning a big time suspension from Major League Baseball. How many kids in the Midwest considered Ryan Braun their role model, only to find out he was using performance enhancing drugs? The list goes on and on.
Charles Barkley was 100% right. Professional athletes aren’t role models – they are just really, really good athletes. That’s a big difference.
And now its up to all of us: We should stop expecting athletes to be role models for our youth.
It’s time for our parents, coaches, teachers, big brothers and sisters, grandparents and clergy to step up and be good role models for our youth. This group of people should be modeling behavior that is worth replicating and looking up to. Now I know that there are many instances of people within this group behaving poorly (and sometimes illegally), but the odds are good that the role models in this group would take an active role in the development and success of our children.
Children of today get caught up in admiration and love of professional athletes to the point that the athletes may be as big of an influence on the child as the parent. And that is simply not right. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why kids look at Stephon Curry or Lebron James and say
“I want to play like him”. I get why kids see Brianna Stewart of the University of Connecticut and say “I want to play like her”. The part that we want – and need – our parents to say is “It’s fine to want to play like Steph, Lebron, or Brianna – but you have to be your own person and be responsible for your own actions.”
Let’s all stop expecting others to be role models for our kids. Let’s change the role model game.