Charles Barkley famously said in a Nike commercial back in the day that he wasn't a role model. While I believe his intent was to shine a brighter spotlight on parents and teachers as the role models for kids in our community, the younglings have other ideas.
I think about the escalating legal mess over guns in the locker room last year with then Washington Wizards b-baller Gilbert Arenas this time last year that triggered a Chris Paul parody song that was played on the Tom Joyner Morning Show ironically on Arenas' January 6 birthday.
Or the athletes that have died violently in the prime of their careers while trying to be big ballers and shot callin' wannabee rap stars.
But it's really no laughing matter about the outbreak of 'athletes gone wild' behavior.
Athletes because of the prodigious amounts of mad loot they make, their glamorous lifestyles, the unblinking media attention, their prowess in their various sports endeavors and their endorsement ads become role models for many kids whether they or society likes it or not. In some cases kids have focused on no one else around them in their lives except athletes to emulate.
I realize that athletes are human beings just like everybody else. But they are human beings with a larger societal platform because of their ability to play a sport at a high performance level and the rest of us paying attention to them because we live our lives vicariously through them.
There are some athletes who are smart enough to recognize that, accept it and be more than worthy of being a role model. But there are far too many others that aren't.
So since teachers, parents and other adults aren't going to be that person for most kids any time soon, it's time for athletes to step up to the plate and realize that they do have a responsibility to our society, our community and themselves to be the best people they can be.