Thursday, December 3, 2009

"I am not a role model"

In the wake of recent insinuations and allegations regarding Mr. Tiger Woods and his personal life, the "Where There's Smoke, There's Fire" crew have apparently been proven right.

I've recently recalled the Nike ad of the late 1980s in which 'Sir" Charles Barkley claimed "I am not a role model."  At the time I was a huge Philly 76ers fan (mainly because of my worship of Dr. J) and was both surprised and disappointed by the Sixers star forward's statement, as he seemed a perfect rags-to-riches, blue-collar candidate for hero worship.  It did cause a fair bit of discussion on the sports-related talk circuits as I recall.  Some argued 'yes' they are role models by virtue of their profession and privilege whether they like it or not, and others argued 'no' despite their self-promotion, professional athletes are still mere human beings.  In the end, as I recall, the general public was divided fairly evenly about this topic.

Now the squeekiest of clean athletes in recent times appears keen to apologize publicly for his "personal failings" which appear to be an obscured confession of what the media already appeared to surmise.

I am again surprised and disappointed at Tiger's apparent failings.  It makes me all the more certain now that Sir Charles was right - professional athletes are not role models.  As they are human, they are susceptible to many of the same issues dealt with by the general public and even issues about which the public doesn't have a clue.

It is often hoped by many that these people, who have extraordinary physical and mental talents, will somehow serve as a inspiration to the rest of us who would gladly exchange places with them, especially in regard to bank accounts.  We all seem to need some sort of guideline or example to follow to further our own lives.

To this I now must say, "bullshit".  Our lives belong to, and are the sole responsibility of us and no one else.  It is our own duty to be that example.

We all need to be our own heroes.  
We need to place high value and regard on the things that really matter in life - love, honesty, fairness, empathy.
We need to be the ones who try our best each and every day.

We need to discount the things which so often are promoted as valuable.  When Tiger's ability to hit a golf ball, or Britney's ability to sing and dance, or Robert Downey's ability to portray a fictional character is more highly valued than their ability to be the best father/mother/person they can, something is profoundly wrong.

I appeal to direct your hero worship to those who truly deserve it: those who work hard and with great personal sacrifice to provide for loved ones; those who've accomplished much with few resources; those who get up each day to help or protect others before themselves; those who place the good of the whole before the good of the individual; those who do what they can to make their own worlds better - little by precious little.
These are the true heroes of today and they are people you likely see everyday.

These are the people that deserve your ultimate respect and whom you should emulate.

These are the people who truly make a difference.

These are the people we should strive to be. 

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