Role Models in Sports

Every parent wants their child to have one. Not just any one, but the best one there is. Some of us still hold on to the one we originally had as a child, and still cherish the day we found it throughout our entire lives. It may even be safe to say it’s ingrained in our nature to seek out a least one of these. All of us at some point of our lives will have had at least one or more, but there’s nothing more disappointing than finding out the one we have is not all that its cracked up to be.

What we’re talking about here are role models. A role model can be defined as someone you look up to; someone you admire for their achievements, triumphs, goals, etc., or in short, someone with whom you would like to mirror their image. The behavior of a role model should exhibit a set of examples for others to follow. For example, when a child has dreams of one day becoming a famous fashion designer, pictures of Donatella Versace’s work may be something found plastered all the child’s bedroom walls along with article clippings of magazine interviews highlighting every detail of this designer’s life. The same goes for a child who has dreams of becoming an actor/actress, a model, and so on. Admiring the work that someone is known for being famous for seems harmless at first, and also quite inspiring to the young learner indeed. However, this is also one major reason why parents need to show great concern if their child’s role model is rumored to be involved in less than desirable behaviors.

Over the past 100 years or so, it seems the quality of role models has declined greatly, especially in the world of sports. There has been so much controversy publicized by the media today to the extent where it not only discredits the athlete, but it also undermines the athlete’s integrity by which the individual appeared to have used in order to achieve their victories. Athletic icons of the past such as Babe Ruth, Muhammad Ali, and Michael Jordan were all portrayed as genuine highly-skilled athletes whose only “less than desirable” behaviors included reckless gambling, draft evasion, and profiting without conscious.

Nowadays, a majority of global athletic heroes are constantly under scrutiny for steroid usage abuse to the point where their reputation will forever be tarnished as well as their career. Jose Conseco has said he regrets writing his book on the abuse of steroid usage in sports because it exposed a truth that had major adverse effects on his career as well as those of his fellow team players. Chris Benoit was involved in a double murder-suicide role when he killed his wife, his 7-year-old son, and himself while suffering from brain damage due to his steroid usage. This opened the doors for a federal investigation into steroid abuse in the world of sports. While some athletes don’t deny their usage and have actually been convicted as being guilty and disciplined for it, many have been innocently been accused and also suffer with the same murky reputation as the ones whose names really do deserved to be smudged.

With a lack of athletic role models available to play in the lives of today’s youth, should sports be put on the endangered species list of careers for the sake of preserving our fragile youth? Sports should be fun and engaging as well as provide a healthy dose of competitive entertainment to win, but not at someone else’s expense, which is exactly the impression we get from today’s athletic role models.

©2013 Learus Ohnine

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