Yesterday I was in the car with my two sons, Hamilton and Gibson and we got on the topic of role models. Hamilton, my oldest, asked me if I had a role model growing up. I was a competitive gymnast from 2nd grade until my senior year in high school, so yeah I did have a role model. It was Mary Lou Retton, the picture perfect athlete. She could do no wrong, in fact, she did no wrong. She was worthy of the title “role model”. Looking back at that time in my life, there were plenty of good role models to choose from. I could name a million people that took that role seriously.
The trouble nowadays is that my kids don’t have anyone to look up to. The men that they idolize and want to be when they grow up can’t seem to get their heads out of their asses long enough to make a good decision. These men often use the excuse of “I never signed up to be a role model” as a means to cop out on any bad decisions that they may make. But, as I see it, these guys get paid millions of dollars for both endorsements and playing sports, and these things automatically make them role models. It’s kind of like buying a car. The sticker price may be $25,000 but the doc fee is an additional $1,200 and no one ever tells you about it until you get in the finance office to sign the contract. But if you want the car, you know you have to pay it.
Take Tiger Woods for example, you can’t tell me that Nike would have paid him $34 million to be their spokesperson ten years ago if he were caught sleeping with fifteen plus women behind the back of his wife before they signed him on to represent their brand. No they wouldn’t have…because they paid him for his image. Why they are still paying him is beyond me. I do not buy the fact that he says he is remorseful. I’m sorry, but I just don’t. I know I shouldn’t judge, but when it comes to male figures that my kids look up to, I feel like I have the right to judge.
What about Ben Rothlesberger, the quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers? He has recently been accused of sexual misconduct, twice. That’s right, not once, but twice. And so far his only punishment is that he is going to have to sit out the first six games of the 2010/2011 season. I bet he still gets paid though. Seriously, what kind of punishment is that for a guy who is a role model to our kids?
I’m from Indiana and our family used to be, and I stress used to be, huge Indiana Pacer fans. But we no longer are because of the thugs that play for our team. And really, it’s not just our team, but the whole league. The NBA has had more guys than I can count get in public brawls, shoot outs, and inappropriate situations. And the worst part is that the repercussion from these incidents is usually minor compared to the action.
I know I shouldn’t complain about things unless I can offer a suggestion on how to improve them. So for this reason I have come up with what I think is a very viable solution to these bad decisions our kids “role models” are making. And here it is…
It is my belief that if you are playing a major league sport you should only get paid on two conditions; first, if your team wins, and second, if you stay out of the spotlight in a negative way. Seriously, that doesn’t seem like to much to ask for, does it? It would mean that these guys not only make better decisions in life, but that they live up to what they are being paid for, and bottom line, that is being a role model.
Honestly, I don’t think that is too much to ask for, do you?
One final thought: Peyton Manning, please don’t let us down. My 9 and 6 year old are counting on you to be the role model you claim to be. Don’t make me have to sit them down and talk about you and your decision making abilities too. We love you and look up to you and hope to for a very long time.