Today’s Professional Athletes Failing To Be Role Models

Aldon Smith

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The recent arrest of San Francisco 49ers Aldon Smith has really gotten me in a rotten mood. Smith was arrested Saturday on a DUI charge, and recently just put himself in a rehab center. A few days later, Cincinnati Bengals Adam “Pacman” Jones was arrested, yet again, for disorderly conduct. These are two clear examples of what some of today’s professional athletes have become: arrogant and selfish.

Long gone are the days of professional athletes being role models for kids. In this new generation of flashy players, millions of dollars and prima donnas, there are no longer a lot of athletes that kids can look up to.

This is not only in football, and I don’t just mean players being arrested. In today’s sports world, there are players cheating (both in sports and out), getting in trouble with the law, and acting like they are above everyone else in society. How do the leagues punish these players? They simply continue to pay them millions and allow them to play, even when they’ve broken team and league rules.

I can take two recent examples to back my argument against these athletes. I’ll start with the MLB and  New York Yankees Alex Rodriguez, and finish with Smith.

Everybody already knows the whole A-Rod debacle: he is going to be suspended next season, but the number of games is not yet known. Rodriguez has lied about taking PED’s, then admitted to it, then denied and lied again, then was caught, and now he is under an appeal process. On top of all of this, is the all-time home run record that A-Rod is closing in on. Rodriguez needs only six more home runs to tie San Francisco Giants great Willie Mays for fourth all time.

So, let’s get this straight. A guy who should already be suspended and has lied to the league on numerous occasions is closing in on Mays, a man who had to go through the segregation era and work his butt off to become great. Mays and many other greats, such as Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Ted Williams, worked hard to pave the way for guys like Rodriguez.

These men battled and did everything the clean way, just to have players like A-Rod, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire spit on their stats and hard work because they were selfish and wanted to be recognized. They should all be ashamed of themselves, and so should any other player in the MLB who has put their stats and fame above hard work and dedication.

The NFL also has its flaws. Look at the arrests of Smith and Jones, for example. Smith was arrested the day before their game against the Indianapolis Colts, and was still allowed to play. What is this proving to young kids? That you can get in trouble, break laws and still be rewarded by being allowed to play? It’s sending the wrong message. It’s proving to many kids and adults that professional athletes are treated at a much higher level than those of us who work hard every day and try to become better while staying out of trouble.

Jones was arrested for the eighth time in his career, and yet he is still in the league. Personally, I think three strikes is enough to be thrown out of the league, but I guess the commissioner believes nine or 10 times should be the number.

Many advocates of professional athletes will use the argument that athletes have a difficult life, traveling, being away from family, and having grueling game schedules that put a toll on their lives. I’m not disagreeing with that. However, I do not understand how athletes can get away with breaking rules and get rewarded for it.

Not all professional athletes are the same, and in no way am I saying that all athletes are cheaters and rule breakers. However, I do truly believe that there are only a handful of role models left in professional sports.

Guys such as Smith, Jones and Rodriguez need to take a look in the mirror and see what kind of “role models” they are becoming. Instead of following in the footsteps of greats before them, they are making a mockery of the sports they play.

I hope athletes start to become more thankful for the god given abilities they have, start treating the games the correct way, and start becoming more respectable role models for kids.

Michael Tiscia is a Green Bay Packers writer for Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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  • Penny Côté

    I couldn’t agree more with everything in this articles. Professional athletes have a talent and are living their childhood dreams. But instead of being role models and contributing to society, some decide to flash their money around, do stupid things, and take this whole opportunity for granted. What’s even potentially worse than the lack of good role models is the fact that leagues, such as the MLB, don’t do anything to stand behind their “policies”, which makes people think professional sports leagues are “all talk, no action.” By not doing anything, not standing being their policies, and allowing for all of these loopholes, they are basically telling the youth that as long as you have the talent and money, you can do whatever you want and the most you’ll ever get is a slap on the wrist. That isn’t the way real life works and it sets horrible examples for the kids that dream of playing in these leagues. And as you stated, it’s not ALL athletes. Unfortunately, there are just more examples of these types athletes than there are of respectable role models. Fantastic article!

  • Jim

    I agree with a lot said. My one issue is Aldon Smith is going to rehab to help resolve a real issue. Drug/acohol abuse is disease that biologically changes your brain. The fact that he was allowed to play vs the Colts is a complete joke. Also, to reply to a comment made, there are not more examples of poor role models than good ones. There are millions of athletes and articles like these point out the bad ones. Maybe if media had for stories than about 8 Make a Wish sport stories ppl can realize what it is like to a model athlete. Instead media focuses on the bad. Oh well…good article.

    • Penny Côté

      Allow me to rephrase it.. We hear much more about all the bad ones than we do about the good ones, leading people to believe that there are more bad examples than there are good.

      • Jim

        which is exactly why i believe it is on media to show off the athletes who do good. similar to how news is polluted by crime and arrests but rarely shows a good deed

        • Penny Côté

          I completely agree!