Role Model No Longer?

Can we now stop with the “athlete as role model” discussion?

It started with Charles Barkley 20 years ago, in a very famous series of ads, in which he told parents that don’t look to athletes to be role models for your children. The spot was met with the expected backlash …. and some looked at Barkley as shirking his responsibility as an athlete to the children of America.

Who knew that Sir Charles would be the prophet?

Here we are in 2009 and the most famous athlete on the planet, the one who inspires children of all ages, races and creeds, now has been exposed in a scandal of unimaginable proportions. A single-car crash in front of his home snowballed today into the revealing of a possible affair with at least one women, a tape-recorded message of someone sounding much like Tiger asking a woman to erase his name from a cell and his somewhat nebulous apology on his website.

Tiger Woods: He is a role model as a golfer, but should any athlete be a role model for the way they live thier lives off the field or course?

As they say, it’s not the crime. It’s the cover-up.

That being said, Tiger’s only “crime” is a misdemeanor traffic violation and a $164 fine. Of course, there are the laws of morality that have been broken here which will like cost him much more in any divorce. However, the damage that may have been done that is irrevocable is that to his image as a role model to millions of young people around the world. No longer will he be seen as perfect … or as close to perfect as any athlete.

But why should our children be told to place their faith in superstars and famous people? Sure, they hold a high place in our society, but how can we expect some in their mid-20’s to mid-30’s to set the example for the way we live our lives. Think about what you were like at age 27? You were still trying to save money, not save the planet. You made mistakes and probably did more than a few embarrassing things. What makes athletes any more perfect than you?

I think 20-somethings have enough to worry about as professional athletes and enough temptations. Let’s not pile on and ask them to raise out kids as well.

Tiger Woods will survive this. He is still the greatest golfer of our time … and will likely eclipse every record in the game. He will still make millions and may actually gain more fans after this because people will want to see him in action even more. I just hope that young people will not look to these stars as models for how they live their lives. Rather, they should view them for the lessons their lives teach. There are obstacles, there are temptations and there are mistakes to be made.

Hopefully, children will look up to the greatest role models in the world … and the most accessible: mom and dad.

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