Courtesy of MCT
Charles Barkley is a prophet.
But not for thinking the Bulls are going to beat the Heat, because that’s not going to happen. For the record, the Mavericks won’t be toppling Miami’s trio either.
No, the “Round Mound of Rebound” 1993 Nike commercial makes him clairvoyant:
“I am not a role model. I am not paid to be a role model. I am paid to wreak havoc on the basketball court. Parents should be role models. Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.”
It’s an immutable truth. But, unfortunately, it doesn’t reflect the real world.
Growing up, my favorite athlete was Ken Griffey Jr. I loved everything about him. I gawked at his poetry-in-motion swing. I reveled in the fact that he was a true five-tool player in for most of his career. And, as a native of Cincinnati, I felt extreme pride that he grew up in the Queen City and spent eight-plus seasons playing for the Reds. Most of all, I admired Griffey for constantly having a smile on his face.
He thoroughly enjoyed playing the game of baseball.
But at no point did I consider Griffey a role model. Luckily for me, I had my mom, my dad and my grandpa to emulate.
Many other kids aren’t so lucky.
They grow up in fragmented families, often with one, or even no, parent or guardian to speak of. Those people, not professional athletes, should serve as life’s prototypes for kids. It’s a shame some children aren’t even given a choice.
Both role models and athletes have character flaws, but the difference is, your parents’ mistakes won’t be broadcast on ESPN or dissected in discussion boards over the Internet. Instead, your parents can have their cake and eat it too. They can sit you down and chat about your mistakes and also their own errors in judgment.
Michael Jordan, on the other hand, can’t walk through your front door, sit down on your couch and open up about his past gambling addiction or divorce.
Furthermore, it’s hard to trust an athlete to set the right example.
Marion Jones, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Tiger Woods and LeBron James: All of them are professional athletes who, at some time, have captivated the attention of sports fans and even non-sports aficionados with their skills and runs on the history books.
Jones, Bonds, McGwire and Sosa cheated.
Woods cheated on his wife many times over. James cheated the idea of tactfulness.
The truth is clear: Barkley’s right — don’t try to “Be like Mike.” Unless, of course, that’s your father’s name.