According to the Webster’s Dictionary, a role model is a person whose behavior, example or success is or can be emulated by others, especially by younger people. Since the tragedy of September 11, our view of role models has changed significantly.
No longer do we see movie stars and sport stars as predominant role models. Instead we are hearing more about firefighters, police and rescue personnel.
Still sports and movie stars are trumpeted throughout the media. The names of Michael Jordan, Jerry Rice and Denzel Washington are etched in our minds as icons of greatness. Other celebrities have been swept from our minds as role models. Jayson Williams, the former NBA all-star with the New Jersey Nets, is no longer a role model in our minds. He, who accidentally shot and killed his limousine driver while fiddling with one of the guns in his collection, was once a great person to look up to for any kid dreaming to one day play in the NBA.
In Williams’ case, to shoot someone accidentally may be forgivable, but not to call for help in a timely fashion and to set the scene up to look like a suicide is unforgivable.
Maybe Charles Barkley said it best when he announced to the world that he is not a role model and that parents should be the most appropriate role models for children.
And why should we look up to sport stars and movie stars as role models? Are they the ones giving us a house to live in or putting food on our plates? Do they protect us in times of danger?
Maybe Barkley is right; we should look to our parents more than actors and athletes as roles models. They are the ones who are always there when trouble arises.
Yet, we live in an era where some of us look up to rap star Eminem whose controversial music sells millions of records. He sold a record 1.7 million copies in one week when his Marshall Mathers LP came out. He sends out anti-gay messages and promotes domestic violence in his music. Yes, to some he makes great music, but is he someone to emulate?
Another person considered a role model to many is former NBA star Dennis Rodman. Best known for his rebounding ability on the court, he is also known for his bad behavior off the court with his history of sexual assault accusations. He may be a good person to look up to on the court, but not so off the court.
A role model should set a positive example in all aspects. If a sport star is to step successfully into the position of role model, he or she should be a positive influence on someone both on and off the court, or field.September 11 came as a wakeup call to us. We saw people putting their lives at risk to save others, and we saw real examples of heroism.Did we see sports or movie stars contributing to the healing after September 11? Yes some did and that is what role models do. They weren’t there to risk their lives, although most of them gladly would, but they were there to pay respect to the real heroes.
The real heroes, who received little attention before September 11, are the ones to be remembered. The firefighters who volunteered and gave up their lives to save strangers, the rescue units that came from all over the nation to give a lending hand and the police officers that tried their best to keep the situation sane when everything around them was going crazy are the real heroes of our nation.