A role model is a person who is looked up to by others, as an example to be imitated.
This definition can be pretty dangerous if you think of the type of people that are seen as “role models” in todays society.
The majority of young boys when I was growing up emulated their sporting heroes, for me, it was David Beckham. I was too young to know what had happened at the 1998 World Cup in France so that didn’t taint the image of my hero.
The first England game I attended was at Old Trafford and at seven years-old I witnessed one of the most iconic goals in Beckham’s history and the England National teams history.
That free-kick against Greece in the 93rd minute.
That cemented Beckham’s status in my head, one of the best midfielders in England’s history. Beckham has been vilified by the national media but has always managed to keep a mostly clean image off the field, as his life is captured by the cameras.
However, not all role models can be emulated in a positive manner. There are sporting persona’s that are best not to follow and they will happily admit they do not wish for children to idolise them.
It is not their choice who idolises them and who doesn’t, they made that decision when they became the stars of their chosen sport. People will idolise their heroes, so if as an athlete, they are the best at their sport or they are constantly winning, then they will be idolised – like it or not.
There are countless athletes who we look up to and shouldn’t try to emulate. Unfortunately, not all athletes can be heroes or role models.
Aaron Hernandez was once one of the brightest prospects in the NFL, he committed suicide this week. Hernandez was serving a life sentence for a murder conviction and he was acquitted of a double murder just days ago.
This example of an athlete as a role model may be extreme but this can ultimately affect anyone whether he was a child’s role model or not.
If that example was extreme then this example is probably stereotypical of athletes in today’s society. Welcome, Tiger Woods, one of the greatest golfers the tour has ever seen, but his reputation has been tarnished for life, after he cheated on his wife and refused to comment on this for a while.
His reputation may have been less tarnished if he had been pro-active with the media but ultimately, this story sounds all too familiar with athletes in today’s sports from NFL to football, basketball to golf, the stories of cheating aren’t too dissimilar.
Since I was a child the image of a role model has changed in my mind rather than someone who I aspire to be like, my role model is someone who can inspire me to be a better person. It is no longer the aspirations that are key to influencing me, it is inspiration that can influence. One of those influencers is former College Football star Inky Johnson.
If nobody has heard Inky’s story, I ask you to watch this video, if this cannot inspire you, then nothing can.