Monday, April 16, 2012

Athlete Role Models: Whether They Like It or Not!

We've written before about how kids can be greatly disappointed when a highly regarded player does not live up to the principles of good sports and character. Life can be so disappointing when we see one sports hero after another fall prey to selfish or hurtful behavior. There are DUIs, spousal abuse, drug abuse, gun crimes, assaults and many other kinds of problems that we have seen in the lives of athletes whose play has made them role models for others.

One suggestion that we have made in one post was that even if the athlete does not live up to our expectations, the principles that are espoused do not change. In other words, if an athlete represents his team and espouses fair play in speeches he gives to young athletes and then something happens in his life to suggest that he hasn't lived up to the ideal of fair play, that does not mean that we should reject the message. Fair play is a principle of play for all athletes--that's a clear message in sports regardless of how it plays out with some athletes.

New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow is someone who is getting a lot of attention these days. He even took to the pulpit recently in Georgetown, Texas on Easter to share his personal story of faith. Tebow puts himself out there as a role model for kids. Regardless of what religion you may belong to, in a broad sense Tebow's appeal is universal because he espouses something greater than himself. In some ways, Tebow is so upfront about his faith that you get the sense that many people are waiting to see him fall.

One thing Tebow stated recently was particularly interesting. There are some professional athletes who are vocal about how young fans should not look to them as role models. It could be that they simply don't want to be put on a pedestal, but it might also be that they do not want to have to worry about living their lives in such a way as to be role model for kids. In response to this thinking, Tebow simply stated that professional athletes are role models, whether they like it or not.

We believe there is wisdom in this statement.
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Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Patrick McCaskey's Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout and other fine sports books. Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout is a personal chronicle of Chicago Bears Senior Director Patrick McCaskey that looks back at decades of spiritual enrichment and life lessons from athletes, coaches, religious and everyday people. McCaskey recalls the stories of those who strived to make the cut on and off the field—plus people who left comfortable lives to serve the under-served in extraordinary ways. Order online.

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