So much for ‘role model’

Keith Allison

(Photo: Keith Allison/

By Gabe Hewitt/[email protected]
Media Editor

Professional athletes are all entertainers. Their job is to entertain an audience and like all entertainers, athletes have people who look up to them.

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice recently sent a bad message to those who look up to him when he knocked out Janay Palmer in an elevator last spring. His knockout earned him a termination from the Ravens and an indefinite suspension from the NFL.

I love sports, but I know I’m not the only one who’s jealous that these athletes are making millions while we’re working our butts off to earn a living. Some of them didn’t even finish college (What message does that send to young adults?). Whenever a player acts out like Ray Rice did, it makes myself and others upset that they get paid the way they do and still commit crimes. It puts parents in a bad spot with their children who look up to them and they’re left with explaining their idol’s actions.

“Daddy, why did Ray Rice hit that girl?”

“Well, son. Uhhh…”

Ray Rice forgot about cameras in elevators. (Photo: YouTube/TMZSports)
Ray Rice forgot about cameras in elevators. (Photo: YouTube/TMZSports)

Athletes live very public lives like any celebrity. If you’re arrested for a DUI, you most likely won’t end up on any major media outlet. If the same thing happens to a high profile athlete, it’s in ESPN’s airwaves in only a couple of hours for the world to see.

The Social Media Age has led to sports leagues implementing social media etiquette workshops to prevent players like Indiana Pacers forward Paul George from saying the wrong thing on a public forum.

“Daddy, why does Paul George think domestic violence is okay?”
“Well, son. Uhhh…”

We can't forget about Kobe Bryant's history. (Photo: Keith Allison/
We can’t forget about Kobe Bryant’s history. (Photo: Keith Allison/

In the case of Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon, he wasn’t suspended because he smoked marijuana. He was suspended for the same reason any employee is fired when their random drug test comes back positive. The NFL did their job in making the situation a teaching lesson for its players and aspiring athletes.

It’s a tricky scenario with Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. As details slowly start to unfold, it still depends on one’s individual stance on child discipline and its extremities to determine if AP is a good or bad role model for their children. Although he was charged with a crime and deactivated by the Vikings for one game, his fate may be up in air with the NFL Front Office.

(Photo: Jason Bacon/Flickr)
Sparky, at last, got his revenge on the elusive dogfighter.(Photo: Jason Bacon/Flickr)

As someone who looked up to a superstar athlete before they were charged with a crime, Rice will never be looked at the same way again in the eyes of his fans. I remember that I couldn’t believe Michael Vick engaged in dogfighting. I didn’t want to believe it but at the same time, all the evidence was there. Of course, this was after he flicked off his fans and had marijuana found with him at airport security so maybe he wasn’t the best role model to begin with. Still, a lot of people looked up to Vick and their feelings toward him changed instantly when he was indicted.

Rice, like Vick, always be looked at as that guy who did this or that. It does, however, leave room for a redemption story and the sports world loves a great redemption story. After serving a short term in prison, Vick had a memorable season with the Philadelphia Eagles. His play on and off the field after his prison time nearly restored his reputation back to what it was.

Ray Rice is not a bad person. He’s a very charitable man and he loves interacting with his fans. His slip-up set a bad example for his young fans, though. He and other athletes have to see that and remember that they’re in the spotlight.

The young “I want to be like them when I grow up fans looking up to them for mentorship and guidance are confused when they commit these crimes. They have to be a role model of how to be successful in the world. They’re doing the complete opposite when they have their mug shot taken.