Nothing to admire in these athlete 'role models'

Tuesday, January 4, 2005

I woke and saw the news again. Once again there were negative antics on the football field. The story was first on ESPN's Sports Center. Joe Horn, of the New Orleans Saints, scored a touchdown and ran over to the goalpost and dug in the padding of the post. Smiling, he took out a cell phone and acted like he was going to call someone and brag. Irresponsible athletes generate a bad image for all professional athletes. Steroids in baseball, Terrell Owens' antics on the football field, the fight in Detroit -- all put a bad light on pro athletes.

Although most athletes are good role models, the media only looks at the negative ones. The media never talks about how good of a guy Cal Ripken Jr. or Kurt Warner is. Even though most athletes have a positive influence on children, Mickey Rathbun, author of "Hero Worship," said, "Kids watch them on TV and read about them in newspapers and magazines. Athletes represent success and power, and they do the same thing kids do: play sports."

This shows that youths look up to these athletes, and the athletes need to watch what they're doing because they are being looked up to. The media deserves to look at these athletes because of what they did wrong, and media coverage is part of the package athletes get when making it to the pros. Also, these athletes make a lot of money because they are playing sports.

Major League Baseball, for example, has its troubles with steroids. Records broken are now being looked at as tainted records. Thomas Boswell, author of "Sullied by Steroids," wrote, " 5 to 7 percent of all baseball players tested positive for steroids." This stat is staggering because it shows that most of teens' role models are using steroids. For example, Barry Bonds, one of the biggest stars in baseball, has been denying using steroids for a long time and he has recently admitted to unknowingly using steroids. Bonds is promoting cheating and he's showing children that it's OK to lie.

In addition to the steroids problem in baseball, the NFL has its problems with poor behavior on the field, like the antics of Terrell Owens. Owens has had a history of being in the spotlight because of his antics in the end zone. One of Owens' first antics was when he was with the San Francisco 49ers and he scored a touchdown. Owens ran to the star in the middle of the field and held out his hands and looked to the sky. Then he scored another touchdown and ran to the star again. Then George Teague of the Dallas Cowboys ran over to Owens and smeared him.

Rathbun wrote, "Kids often copy their favorite athlete's "look" -- the way he swings a bat, wears his cap or celebrates a touchdown." This confirms the fact that many youths look up to players like Terrell Owens and want to be like him. Children will want to show off when they score a touchdown, hit a homerun or score a goal. Because children are always watching the athletes' games, the athletes should be careful that their behavior on the field sets a good example.

In addition to steroids in baseball and Owens' poor judgment, the NBA has been put in a bad light because of the fight on Nov. 19 in Detroit. According to Detroit Free Press writer Perry A. Farrell, Ron Artest of the Indianapolis Pacers fouled Ben Wallace of the Detroit Pistons. Wallace was upset and shoved Artest in the throat. Artest went to the score table and laid down. As the tempers of the players were cooling, Artest was hit in the face with a cup. Then Artest ran up into the stands and started to beat up on fans. After that, players Stephan Jackson and Jerrnaine 0' Neil came to help their teammate.

As the players were exiting the I court, the fans were throwing beer, water, soda, popcorn and even a chair. These events were the worst ever in sports history. According to the Detroit Free Press article "Ugly brawl taints Pistons' loss in Central showdown," Larry Brown, the head coach of the Pacers, said, " It's the ugliest thing I've seen as a coach." This event makes it hard for fans to look up to these players as role models. Athletes should act like respectable grownups, not little children.

Athletes like these put the sports world in a bad light. Many people think that sports figures shouldn't be thought of as role models, but if their child began admiring some of these athletes, they would think differently.

Ryan Ehlers is a student at XXXXX.

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