Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Playing around

Role models—these can be some the most influential people in the world to a small child who put these “grown ups” on a pedestal. These role models are everything that the child ever wants to be—rich, famous, and talented. Progressively, however, role models for children are quickly becoming non-role model material.

The media keeps us fully informed of this in Hollywood. When Jaime Lynn Spears and Miley Cyrus made their respective mistakes, parents across the country raised their voices in protest, refusing to let their daughters look up to such actresses.

While I agree with these parents, I have a question. Why does the entertainment industry receive all the notice for bad role models? While parents repeatedly warn their children that young Hollywood should not be looked up to, they never say a word about the increasing trend among sports stars to abuse substances.

Why the double standard? Why is it unacceptable for an actor or actress to abuse drugs, but it is the social norm for sports stars? Should our heads be turned to athletes’ use of drugs, since they are doing it simply to “win the big game?" Are we honestly so desperate for a U.S. runner to win the Olympic medal that we are willing to condone her use of steroids, even in front of our children?

But non-ethical behavior in sports does not limit itself to substance abuse. In recent news, boxer Kimbo Slice was revealed as a phony, when he went down in just fourteen seconds in a fight with little-known boxer Seth Petruzelli. While many have no problem with the charade Slice pulled, I find it unacceptable, especially where children are concerned. If children are told that it is acceptable for an athlete to cheat, nothing will stop from cheating, whether in school or in sports.

As ethics gradually disappear from sports, role models follow suit. Children can no longer look up to hard-working, talented sports stars; instead, they listen to story after story of athletes losing their titles or medals due to drug use (such as Floyd Landis and Marion Jones) or sports stars being arrested (most recently, Brandon Backe).

In the face of intense sports rivalries, ethical behavior may not seem important, but if ethics are not considered now, the future of sports is not pretty. With no ethics, games will no longer be a competition of skill, but of cheating ability. Personally, I believe we see enough of that in politics.

~ Tiffany Buckler

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