OUR VIEWS: Pro athletes need to be role models, not hooligans

Jun 8, 2012


Role models come in many different forms — teachers, clergy, police and firemen, military heroes, moms and dads, and other close relatives, just to name a few.

Some role models are an everyday part of impressionable lives. While others, like
sports heroes, watching them on TV is likely to be the closest we’ll ever be to them.

It’s ironic that those furthest away are in a position to have the biggest impact, and many fall short of filling the role.

Many professional athletes live in denial as it pertains to their role-model status, and it’s reflective in the way they conduct themselves away from the game. Like it or not, many young kids look up to and idolize their favorite athlete, and watch them on and off the court — often fantasizing about living life in their shoes.

The latest incidents surrounding off-field indiscretions of Detroit Lions players underscore how irresponsible high-profile athletes can be.

Defensive tackle Nick Fairley returned to the team last week after being arrested on drunk-driving charges in Alabama — his second such arrest in two months. Wide receiver Titus Young was recently allowed back to practice after instigating a fight with a teammate. Running back Mikel Leshoure was cited twice this off-season for possession of marijuana.

Many of these athletes, while now living a very privileged life, were raised in less than ideal conditions. But that shouldn’t give them a free pass.

The various sports leagues that continue to pay exorbitant salaries need to step up and get these young millionaires on the right track. Providing them with a means to buy their way out of trouble isn’t the solution, nor is it doing anyone any good.

Perhaps stiffer fines or policies that put a cap on wages for those that fall out of line would get their attention.

The debate would be long and fierce, but it must start somewhere.

Those who find themselves in the spotlight should take a long look in the mirror and ask themself if they are being the best role model that they possibly can be. Anything short of that is just not acceptable.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Kevin Collier and Liz Stuck. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.



The Ted Williams era is over. Alumni and college boards start this parade. Kids will be kids and they are impressionable; to whit, I am talking about the athletes, they cant be role models when they are kids themselves. They are given a free pass on virtually all the experiences that would normally force a person to grow up. Look to college football for the answers to these problems. Maybe the college boards should be more concerned about being role models instead of living vicariously through athletes. We could literally train dogs to put on the same show, but wait, that's illegal.


Give these people unbelievable amounts of money, treat them like gods, excuse them from what most people consider as reasonably expected behavior and then wonder why these professional athletes act like jerks. I think that is kind of bordering on insanity.
Why do we use our colleges as training grounds for professional sports? These institutions are supposed to for higher learning. Just think of what advances could be made if even half the funds that are wasted building huge temples to football, facilities that are usually used maybe 8 times a year, was put toward a cure for cancer!
Perhaps that is why there are so many obese people in this country, all we do is pay to watch others do what we should be doing ourselves!
Get off the couch and ignore these jerks and the problem will go away!
But then all those analysts will be out of jobs!

Jaques Strapp

Your argument is weak at best. Most colleges and universities have separate athletic department budgets from academic, and the exposure these big time sports bring to colleges and universities is astronomical.


I guess I wasn't really putting forth an argument, just stating an opinion. I can't stand sitting inside watching some over paid, arrogant, behemoths, try and beat each other senseless to move a little ball around a field. That is in between the Bud Lite and the perscription medicine repeated "ad" nauseum commercials. I just do not understand the appeal!
I guess I also don't understand the need for the colleges and universites, in these times of having 10 or more applicants for every opening, to need exposure. So that when scandles that recently occured at Penn State come to light, we all know where it took place? There again, a perfect example of how there is so much money and "stature" at stake, people will do anything to preserve that life style.


Amen to GH55...sports and worship of athletes has gotten way out of hand, to the detriment of i.e. musicians, scholars, orators, actors in our schools.


Pretty simple have zero tolerance for any and all crimes (except maybe speeding tickets) for all athletes in every sport (pro or college). A lot these college athletes are there on scholarships, take those away immediately and kick them out of school if they can pay for it themselves. As for the pro-athletes, they all need their pay cuts anyway. No one is worth millions of dollars for throwing, hitting (which most have atrocious batting averages) running a ball down the field or bouncing a ball around a court. Zero tolerance for anyone caught, they get kicked out of the league and banned for life for all drug offenses or violent crimes. There are very few that are role models these days. Take Tim Tebow, and he gets ridiculed by the media and other players for professing his faith. Maybe a few more can pay attention to this, and learn something from it. These athletes are given way too much leeway and turn a blind-eye on their actions, they need to be held accountable. The only way is a zero tolerance, you don't go to prison for dog fighting (Vick) and be let back into the league. He should be digging ditches somewhere for minimum wage. There are a lot of guys that would love the chance to play for the pros, and are never given the chance. There would be plenty of room, if they (the leagues) would get rid of the trouble makers for good. Role models are a thing of the past in pro sports. It is a sad situation for young kids that look up to these so called pros (many with criminal records).


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