Sir Charles had it right…
Mind you, I’m not crazy about anyone using that mantra as an excuse to be a beacon of how not to behave; however, the fact of the matter is that neither he, nor any other professional athlete should be considered a role model. We do not follow, cheer for, idolize (whatever) athletes for the quality of their character, we pay attention to them because either they win, or the try to win games (preferably but not exclusively for our favorite teams).
We don’t really know anything about these guys and yet we want to be “like Mike” (that’s a nod to my generation… today’s kids want to be King James or – shudder – Brock Lesnar etc.). I get wanting to have their abilities… especially in that rub-the-lamp-and-get-it-without-working sort of way… but actually looking up to them and wanting to be them?
Again, Barkley (and Nike) had it right. Nike has come up with several of the better endorsement themes over the years, and by better, I mean somewhat responsible. This one comes to mind as well:
But… if it is a role model you are looking for, I’d suggest you look elsewhere. Notice the young man/ladie holding the door for others at the movie theater and acknowledge the role model before you. Take the time to tip your hat to a volunteer at a nearby hospital or shelter, recognizing their admirable behavior. Next time you see a parent making it all work and putting their kids first, understand that this is an actual act of character, worthy of impersonation.
Being a real role model takes consistent character and conviction; its about the litany of little things done over and over again despite lack of thanks or recognition. I’t not about the glam shot… and its anything but a slam dunk.