The University of Arkansas just fired its most famous employee. Former Head Football Coach Bobby Petrino
was relieved of his duties at the university, stemming from a motorcycle accident that revealed Petrino’s relationship with a 25-year-old employee of the school’s athletic department.
The negative publicity for the university and athletic program was too much to handle with Petrino around, resulting in the school’s only choice to sever ties with the former head coach.
This incident is just one of many negative public stories about figures in sports whose success and fame inevitably go to their head, creating an aura or feeling of invincibility in their surroundings.
Petrino’s firing takes its place in a long line of athlete arrests, run-ins with the law, disgraceful and shameful acts that diminish a reputation, and turn off a fan base.
Beyond the breaking of the law there is the ethical boundary set as a standard for these athletes and other popular icons. However their larger-than-life personas lead them to stray from the path that they are supposed to follow.
There are instances where an athlete did not break the law, but rather the ethical code by society. The responsibility given to athletes today goes beyond the money, cars, houses and celebrity status. Instead athletes are praised and looked up to due to the discipline, dedication and commitment it takes to be a great professional or even collegiate star.
The opportunity to be a role model does not come along frequently for many people, but athletes can become heroes to kids and even grown adults everywhere, which is an obligation and responsibility whether they want to assume it or not.
Some athletes take on the role and relish in it, while others struggle to accept it, and carry it as a burden and task.
We seem to place our athletes on a pedestal, holding them to unrealistic standards that would be set for most people. We don’t take into account that these athletes are humans, and with all the constant attention and praise come the chance of mistake, a breaking of the social and moral values. Social and moral values differs from person to person, but the fact remains athletes are given a lot of money to play their respective sport, perform at their best and set a positive example as a representative of their team, community and themselves.
Role models can use their fame to help promote a better cause, and those who do are portrayed in the media as Good Samaritans. The media portrays certain athletes in a positive light for the attributes they possess, and negatively for poor outside conduct and activity.
Sometimes athletes are able to find ways to figure out their mistakes, revitalizing their careers. Most notably is Michael Vick, whose jump from prison to backup quarterback, to starter for a playoff caliber team has been well documented. The moral of this sports tale is that as long as athletes keep playing and succeeding through what it takes to be a professional, they will continue to be viewed as models
I would say that athletes are absolutely role models and they are products of a society looking for someone to depend on. The only question that remains is whether these athletes truly understand and grasp the idea of it.