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 firstname.lastname@example.org or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.