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Do you want today’s athletes to be role models?

January 17, 2013
Richmond High School



Do you want today’s athletes to be role models? 

Troy Derengowski….RICHMOND SPORTS NEWS

It keeps happening.  Lance Armstrong and Manti Te’o are the latest.  Doping, dishonesty, affairs, recruiting, drugs, gambling and more.   Before Armstrong and Te’o we had Tiger Woods, the New Orleans Saints scandal, Bobby Petrino at Arkansas and on and on and on.  Name the sport and there is or has been some sort of scandal. 

Since Manti Te'o is still in college lets focus for a moment on some of the college sports scandals that included SMU Football; In 1986, it was revealed that Southern Methodist University boosters gave football players thousands of dollars from a "slush fund" with the knowledge of university administrators. Along with a string of prior NCAA violations, this led the NCAA to level the "death penalty" on the school's football team. 

Michigan basketball: Four players, most notably Chris Webber, were paid by a booster to launder money from his gambling operations. In some cases, the payments extended to their high school days. 

Baylor basketball: (2003) - player Patrick Dennehy was murdered by teammate Carlton Dotson. Later, coach Dave Bliss instructed his players to lie to NCAA investigators that Dennehy dealt drugs. In the wake of these events, numerous violations of NCAA rules were discovered. 

And of course Penn State: In November 2011, former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, is arrested on 40 counts of sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year period including incidents in Penn State's football facilities. Subsequently, the university's athletic director, Tim Curley, and a Senior Vice President, Gary Schultz, were arrested on perjury charges and for failing to report the incidents thereby fueling speculation of a university cover-up. In June 2012, Sandusky was convicted on 45 charges related to the scandal. 

I don’t have enough time and space to cover every sports scandal but I must wonder, how can we have athletes as role models?  I am not saying there aren’t many excellent role models in sports but it appears the numbers are shrinking.  I see it beginning in high school and younger.  We as a society are looking for the next superstar and are willing to pamper these athletes and give them all the praise in the world before they have accomplished anything.  The AAU basketball circuit is a prime example.  Recruiting players, giving them clothing and shoes and God only knows what else they get.  Then the players “expect” to be taken care of.  Their participation will come at a price.  College coaches need these players in order to keep their jobs so they too have to pay the price.  Believe me when I tell you, every program in the country is doing something outside the rules to get these star players.  The players know they can play one program against the other to sweeten the pot.   So with all of this going on, we are sending the wrong message very early to these young athletes….pay me more or I will go elsewhere!

When athletes were ten and eleven and dreaming of being sports stars, they were dreaming of the stardom as well as the athletic prowess; the acclaim, the notoriety, being known and respected figures in society.

When they reach that goal, they should remember when they were ten years old and idolized their generation’s star athletes. They should remember how they and their friends copied their moves, their speech, their actions, their whole personas. And they should care.

Most children see and emulate sports stars long before they can understand those stars’ psychological situations. And most kids, if they see sports stars fighting, if they see them drinking, they see them getting into some sort of trouble, they think it is cool. And when they see the athletes get off the hook, they too think they can get off the hook.  If the kids hear about the sports stars cheating on their wives …well you get the idea!

These sports stars are reaping some of the highest rewards of this society. They should make the extra effort not to trash this society. 

Athletes aren't always who they seem to be on TV. On TV, they always look like smiling, happy people who just love to help out people in need and give hugs to little children. In reality, these people are just actors who happen to be good at playing sports. Sure, some athletes really are who they seem on TV, but many of them are cruel and heartless folks out there looking to make some cash. They could be on drugs or using alcohol or many other horrible things that real role models should not be doing. These people would be better role models if they actually lived up to their identity on the television screen.

So the question remains: Should athletes be role models? I don’t know, but I know they are. And as such, when they fail to hold themselves to the highest possible standards, they should take steps to offset the damage they have done.






 


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