Thursday, September 18, 2008

Guest Post: Role Models

Josh Coleman is the author of the incredibly excellent 3 Shades of Blue, covering the Memphis Grizzlies. The recent Josh Howard fiasco touched a nerve, and we're very grateful to have Josh relay his thoughts here on HP. We hope to have Josh back any time he feels like it. Enjoy.


A few days ago, my co-blogger Kirk at 3 Shades of Blue wrote a post entitled The Only Reason We Should Look Up To Them Is Because They Are Taller Than Us. He talked about why we shouldn't lambaste rookies Darrell Arthur and Mario Chalmers for their misstep in getting caught in a hotel room with regulation breaking guests and the smell of marijuana hanging in the air. After all, they are just kids trying to have a good time. I'm sure that many of us would be horrified if the indiscretions of our youth became national news moments after it happened because we were thrust into the media spotlight the way that these two have.



I vividly remember the old Nike commercials that starred "Sir" Charles Barkley, the most infamous of which concluded with him saying "I am not a role model" directly at the camera, as seen above. There was much debate about that at the time, as many people, fans and media alike, felt that professional athletes had an obligation to be shining examples to the children who made up a large portion of their fan base. So wherein does the truth exist? Should professional athletes be role models or should they be allowed to do whatever they please?

As is typically the case, I believe that the truth lies somewhere in the middle. On the one hand, these guys are being played millions of dollars to play a game, while being adored by kids across the world. So they have a certain level of responsibility to act like they actually do recognize their position of influence over those same kids and act accordingly. On the other hand, they are people, just like you and me, and they are prone to screwing up just like us. The only difference is that they have a lot more money and free time, so their mistakes tend to be a lot more noticeable, which is only accentuated by the fact that the media covers their every move 24/7/365.

My favorite thing to hear is from Joe Q. Public who calls in to the local sports talk radio show to say, "Well, I know if I was making that kind of money, I'd be doing more good with it than these pampered, selfish babies are. I sure wouldn't get into the kind of trouble that they do every other night." Well that's a load of manure, because Joe probably gets into plenty of trouble on his own and rarely gives a dime of his discretionary income to charities or good causes. The whole idea that fans can adopt a "high and mighty" attitude towards the guys who suit up for their favorite team is laughable. Find me a guy who has never screwed up in his life and I'll show you someone who has some interesting skeletons in his closet.

Here's what we should remember: Professional athletes make obscene amounts of money, live much higher profile lives than we do and perform superhuman feats on the court/field/rink every other night...but they are still just people...just like we are. We should hold them to the same standards that we hold ourselves to -- no more, no less. The good ones can be role models for our kids and the bad ones can be cautionary tales. Tell your kid to play like Ron Artest, but don't go Crazy Pills like Ron Artest. As Sir Charles admonished us -- be a parent/mentor to your kid, so that Chuck isn't expected to. Take responsibility for yourself and your family, rather than placing the blame on guys who will probably never meet your family face-to-face. Let them play their sport and worry about their own lives, rather than pressuring them to oversee your's too.

After all, the only reason we should look up to them is because they are taller than us.

 
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