Why Athletes are Role Models

A role model is a person who is admired and emulated by many. The term role model was for the first time used by Robert Merton after he noted that people compared themselves with others. In sports, those athletes who perform to the expectations of the fans are taken as role models and are emulated by their fans. Role models are often under heavy scrutiny of the media and so the chances that their negative aspects of life are brought to the light are very high but despite this, they still shine as role models. Because of their outstanding skills and uniqueness when it comes to sports, they are admired by people of all ages, the young and the old. This research paper will try to bring an understanding to the question, why athletes are role models despite the fact that they are highly scrutinized by the media.Most athletes shine in areas where they are even not expected to shine. For example, when a certain popular athlete is involved in scandal he/she tends to become more popular because of the publicity he/she receives. People focus on what they have achieved in the past but not on that one single bad event. It is not by choice that athletes become role models but it is their status, wealth and determination that makes them admirable by the public and a case in hand is of Marion Jones who despite the fact that she tested positive to performance drugs and sentenced for six months, she still is a role model to many. People cannot forget the achievements and good things that have been by the said athlete in the past but this is only different when it comes to sports where achievements are based on ones extra ordinary character traits but in other fields it is different. (Lensky, 2008, 78-80)Most of the things that are done by athletes outside the field are not publicized as much as those done in the field but the fact is that, although they are not reported people cannot fail to recognize them. It is their virtues and character in general that make them who they are for example their diligence, sportsmanship, perseverance and the value of training that make them to be taken as role models by many people but according to Julian Morrow, some of the character traits that make them shine such as high temperedness and dare daring behaviors make up somebody who you cannot like to stay the next door. (Schaller, T. 2004)According to Putnam, (87) athletes occupy a unique position in the pantheon of celebrities and it is for this reason that they become famous. Unlike comedians, television presenters and actors who spend much of their time on stage and televisions to be popular, the case is different when it becomes to sports because here it is their sheer ability and hard work that counts. When people realize their uniqueness, they become attracted to them and even begin to emulate what they do or what they say.The mass media plays a very vital role in informing the public on what is happening in the sports’ field. According to various surveys that have been done in the past, (Lensky, 2008, 78) the number of people who rely on the media (television and internet) to know what is going on in sports are more than those that attend the live shows. Even some people who seem to know much about sports as if they attend these shows get that information from the media. For this reason the role that media plays cannot be down played for if it does not keep us posted, then we would know very little about sports.Many athletes who are successful have admirable and extra ordinary lifestyles because they have a lot of money and this makes them to be highly envied by their fans. Due to the scrutiny that they are given by the media they are forced to act in a more responsible manner rather than how they would have behaved behind the scenes. Some people even expect athletes to become role models in matters that do not pertain what they do in the field and this gives them a hard time to meet such expectations. Some people think that this is expecting too much. “…It is unfair to ask athletes to serve as role models because they live their lives in a kind of moral vacuum, created by years of pampered treatment from parents, friends, fans, coaches, team officials and agents. They are ill prepared for the task.”(Putnam, 80)The irony with the media’s close scrutiny of the athletes is that it can give a person who might not have gotten a chance to become role model to become one. Not all that the media airs is taken by the public no matter how positive or negative it is, in fact the final judgment as to who should become a role model or not lies with them. According to Putnam (80), Charles Berkley became a role model not because of his outstanding skills in sports but because of the simple reason that he initiated the public debate that was featured in the media many times. He was opposed to the role that athletes are given by the public as role models.In short, though athletes are heavily scrutinized by the media, they are still seen as role models. It is true that almost everything that we come to know comes from the media but it is the people who know who their role model is. Media may try to paint dark the name of an athlete but still remain a role model again; this negative publicity might work to their advantage. Another thing that favors athletes despite the fact that they are always under the eyes of the media is that they too realize that they are being watched and thus they behave more responsibly than they would do in normal circumstances.