The question of whether athletes are role models

He's a miracle on the field, able to manoeuvre with ease while in possession of the ball and off the field, he is credited with helping end a civil wa r. Though he lived in France through much of his youth, Ivory Coast was always home.

The question of whether athletes are role models

By Paul Jonson Posted February 24, Professional athletes like Karmichael Hunt seem to be treated differently and inconsistently when it comes to allegations. Chris Hyde Professional athletes are required to meet standards of personal behaviour that are both higher than other professions and less precisely evaluated.

This is neither fair nor reasonable, writes Paul Jonson. Why do sports associations have the right to take action against one of their athletes for behaviour that occurs in their private time and which is unrelated to the sport? This question is one that arises out of the recent charges against the professional rugby union and rugby league players Karmichael Hunt, Beau Falloon and Jamie Dowling for allegedly supplying a dangerous drug cocaine.

Dual role models?

Given that the case is still to come before the courts it is inappropriate to comment on it specifically; however, it is a matter of concern as to how professional athletes are treated by their sport associations for behaviour that is unconnected to their work.

Hunt, Falloon and Dowling have, for now, all been stood down from participating with their clubs pending the outcome of their charges, apparently for their welfare and that of their teammates. Contrast this situation to David Pocock Australian Rugby Union vice-captainwho was charged for essentially trespassing and hindering workmen, yet was not stood down pending the hearing of the case.

Whilst it is not suggested the seriousness of the charges against Hunt, Falloon and Dowling are equivalent to that against Pocock, they are all "criminal" and there is a clear inconsistency in how these cases and there are a plethora of others are being treated.

The question of whether athletes are role models

The sports associations derive their right to act against players for "off-field" behaviour under the playing contract which includes Codes of Conduct if the athlete is deemed to have "brought the game into disrepute".

This phrase is intentionally broad to capture any behaviour by the athlete. Both pertain to all behaviour - be it on or off the field, connected or unconnected to their sport. Professional athletes should not be treated so differently and inconsistently.

Two courses of action need to be taken to create a fairer non-playing field. Firstly, there needs to be greater precision as to what constitutes "bringing the game into disrepute". More specificity as to the circumstances that will result in an athlete being charged by his sport association for this breach of contract should be given so that players have a better awareness of what behaviour will and will not bring their sport into disrepute.

The question of whether athletes are role models

Secondly, there needs to be a debate about the extent to which these athletes should be role models. Do they have to be exemplary in everything they do or just for those things that actually relate to their sport?

It is incumbent on both the sport associations and the players associations to negotiate and establish greater clarity around each of these two matters. Once having done so it is also necessary they be involved in educating the athletes as to their obligations under these legal and moral expectations and their consequent behaviour off the field of play.

Although, again there should be more clarity as to what actions they can take pending the determination of legal proceedings. Commentators seem to have all agreed it was "the right thing" for the associations to "stand down" the players in the interim.

But in what circumstances should that be, and what is the right thing to do? Professional athletes, like all other professionals, must behave in a manner befitting their profession, but it seems the behaviour for professional athletes is accepted to be both of a higher standard and less precisely evaluated than all others.

This is neither fair nor reasonable to professional athletes and their employers and representatives should take steps to make it so. These issues were explored in the recently published December article "The contractual and ethical duty for a professional athlete to be an exemplary role model:Athletes of influence - the reality of sports role models 21 December It has become a truism that professional athletes, whether they like it or not, “are” role models for others.

May 17,  · Athletes should not be role models; fathers and mothers should be role models. E. P. HUMPHREY Jr. Wynnewood, Pa. It is a given that young people need role models, and once we acknowledge the. It has become a truism that professional athletes, whether they like it or not, “are” role models for others.

Talented sportspeople hardly win every time, and sometimes they do not exemplify fair play. But many athletes convey attributes about performance, character and resilience that draw admiration from fans.

A role model is defined as “a person whose behavior, example, or success is or can be emulated by others, especially by younger people.” Athletes comprise most of the role model community in today’s day in age, based on their popularity in our culture.

Though these so-called role models are in the eye of many, the officials and judges elected to determine their guilt usually let these athletes get off.

Athletes, though some of them wish not to be, are role models. That's the topic of a panel discussion (Pros and Cons: Are Athletes Role Models?) tonight at Sottile Theatre on the campus of the College of Charleston at 7.

Frank Deford, nationally recognized sports writer, author and broadcaster, will host the event.

Athletes of influence? The role model refrain in sport