February 23, 2009

Looking for Role Models

I am a huge sports fan and I have always looked up to athletes for their work on the field of play, their dedication to excellence through practice and living a healthy lifestyle and their determination for becoming the best in what they do. However, with each week that goes by, more and more athletes are on TV and in the newspapers for all the things they are doing wrong and that are illegal, and not for their athletic successes.

Yet we still try to suggest that because they are on TV and in the public eye they are role models. Why?

Haven’t we learned from the days of Charles Barkley when he said, “I am not a role model,” and even had a commercial to state that fact? Hasn’t the lifestyles of famous athletes made us cringe and question the way we put them in the spotlight?

Recently we found out that the king of the Olympics was pictured doing illegal drugs and let down hundreds of thousands of fans, young and old who looked up to him. Baseball players left and right are admitting to doing drugs to enhance their performance and make more money, while everyday people in our communities across the country are passed over for these role model positions.

Growing up, I was a huge sports fan. However, when it came to looking for role models or people I admire, it was not someone on the cover of magazines and newspapers, the internet was not around and TV didn’t have cable, so I found role models in the people around me, my family.

Depending on the day it could have been my sister, father, mother, grand parents, cousins, family friends, whomever. I saw these people regularly and could rely on them when I needed them. I realize and understand that because I had these people in my life makes me lucky, I would argue that I was spoiled because of it. However, whether it was because I knew to look elsewhere or because these people around me guided me, I did not look to people in the spotlight for my role models.

We need to do a better job highlighting these members of our communities that should be the role models and spend less time worrying about what celebrity is doing what with whom, and which drugs they are using. Our culture sensationalizes movie stars and athletes, but regularly dismisses the efforts of teachers and suggests that single mothers are bad for the “family” structure.

How can we change this culture so that the community that raises a child is the most important aspect in that child’s life?

This post was written by Matthew Reid, volunteer blogger with the Literacy ‘n’ Poverty Project. A native New Yorker, Matthew now lives in Boston and works for a math curriculum development company.

1 comment:

DURphoto said...

One of my role models was Paul Newman.
Now THAT'S a role model!!

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