Roger Clemens recently unretired from Major League Baseball for the how-manyeth time. Why? He could make a boatload of money, and because he wanted a championship. Here's what he said at his unretirement party:
Make no mistake about it, I've come back to do what they only know how to do here with the Yankees, and that's win a championship. Anything else is a failure, and I know that.
Unfortunately, American society agrees with him. Everything in our "we're number one" society proclaims that number two is scum. Fortunately, this sentiment is wrong, but it's terrible when a professional athlete tells kids that if they're not the best, they are worthless.
If that's all Roger Clemens thinks about baseball, I wish he would just retire again. Mr. Clemens' former pitching teammate for the Boston Red Sox, Bruce Hurst, would never say something as inane as that not taking first place is a failure. Bruce teaches youth that just being able to play is a victory. Bruce Hurst is a much better role model than Roger Clemens. Too bad that Roger Clemens is the one making the professional comeback.
In a 1993 Nike commercial, former NBA basketball player claimed "I am not a role model." He qualified it by saying, "Parents should be role models." He got it half right. Charles Barkley was a role model, and had an effect on the coarsening of professional basketball. Because of Charles Barkley, people became preconditioned for role models Dennis Rodman, Allen Iverson, and Kobe Bryant.
On the other hand, class acts like John Stockton and Dwyane Wade clearly understand that they are role models. They understand that their actions and their words are consumed by thousands of people. They speak of their families and values that should be important for all.
Hopefully we as parents are performing our roles as role models, specifically that we point out to our children which professional athletes do and which don't understand their model role.