Athletes as Role Models

For most young boys, their heroes and role models are athletes. They have gravitated to these athletes by watching them constantly on television. Yet, these athletes are sometimes not the role models off the field.

Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice, both star running backs of the National Football League and faces of their franchises, have been suspended for off-field incidents. Both of these players were respected for all the work they do on and off the field, which makes the incidents shocking to many. Yet, one of the most common things said about athletes is we do not know who these guys really are.

Growing up a mile from Lambeau Field made it easy to have Brett Favre as my childhood hero. To me, he was Superman because he never missed a game. That number four was the “S’ on superman’s chest. Then came the time period of 2008-2010.There was the indecisiveness on retirement and the texting scandal. As a kid I loved Favre, but as a teenager I hated my hero. It was a shocking time period not only for me but thousands of fans like me. To me, he was not the good old fun-loving guy from Mississippi. He was selfish and loved the spotlight.

In the movie “The Dark Night,” there’s a quote that says, ”You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” Favre retired as my hero, but came back as the villain to my favorite team. He returned to Green Bay in 2009 to boos from over 75,000 fans.

Now that time has passed, I do not hate Favre. I can look back at the great moments he had, but I cannot forget what happened near the end of his career.

I grew up during the steroid era of Major League Baseball. I saw players like Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Alex Rodriguez play. They were larger than life, but now are all linked to the reputation of steroids diminishing their reputations.

Then in 2012, Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. I was stunned when I heard the news. Nobody saw it coming. Had I been a kid, I would have taken the news harder, but at 18, I learned I shouldn’t be surprised anymore. I see Braun differently then I did three years ago, which is a shame. He was my favorite player to watch, but now he is just a good player who lied to an entire fan base.

My dad always told me to never just root for a certain player, but to root for the team as a whole. I believe that is great advice for any parent to give a child who loves watching sports, and I appreciate what my dad told me.

When Favre left Green Bay, I remained a Packers fan while many left with Favre. Now in Minnesota and Baltimore, there are fans trying to deal with the news of their favorite players. There are those who are glad Peterson and Rice are not playing, but there are those who support both.

If there is one thing we should take away from this, it is that the athletes we see on television are not always the same people off the field. We do not know their personal lives. Some athletes can be role models, and some are not. Athletes will never stop being role models for kids, but we should no longer be surprised by their actions.

Marty Kauffman
Sports Editor
mkauf036@uwsp.edu

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