Athletes make points, not role models

Cartoon by Kirstie Haruta / Special to Xpress
Cartoon by Kirstie Haruta / Special to Xpress

Whether it’s a home run or a drug scandal, athletes on any level can’t seem to escape the media’s eye — and SF State is no different with star basketball player Decensae White being arrested for an alleged connection to an Atlanta homicide.

With accused athletes come the hordes of news anchors, columnists, and general public saddling up on their high horses complaining about how disappointed they are in the example these athletes are setting.

Why are we expecting athletes to be role models? An athlete’s job is to play sports. They’re not school teachers whose job is to motivate and inspire. They’re not firefighters who risk their lives to rescue people.

They are athletes whose sole purposes are to entertain — and yes, be in the public spotlight. Some athletes embrace the role of the exemplar, but all athletes shouldn’t be shoehorned into that mold just because everybody is watching.

An article by Bleacher Report asked if being a role model is part of the professional athlete’s job. The article concluded that “they should be the last place we look for guidance, except in a rare circumstance.”

It’s not realistic to think that every person who’s good at sports should be a role model to kids. They have no qualifications to think they would embrace or excel in this role.

Humility, compassion, and selflessness are all qualities we look for in role models. In reality, athletes are taught early that their ultimate goal is to win, and improving their odds of winning should be their concentration.

They also are not known for doubting their own abilities. Like Kanye West said, “It’s hard to be humble when you stuntin’ on a jumbotron.”

It’s as if we try to shove these people into a box labeled “perfect role model,” which they can’t fit in, then concentrate on the fact that they don’t fit it and forget they were never meant to in the first place.

The famous saying goes, “never meet your idols,” but maybe it would be better advised to never idolize someone you have not met.

Should people be looking up to people who they have minimal contact with at best?

An article in the Oklahoma Daily stated that athletes should not be looked up to because like anyone else, they are just human beings.

“All human beings are extremely adept at letting others down. Because humans are flawed,” the author stated.

As Charles Barkley once famously said in a Nike commercial, “I’m not paid to be a role model; I’m paid to wreak havoc on the basketball court.”