Athletes should act like role models

Sports Column

It is not uncommon to see young children wanting to be like their favorite sports professional.

Kids ask their parents to buy jerseys, hats, shoes and socks that are branded by that player so they can feel that closeness of being like them. They try to imitate their idols by acting, walking and talking like them.

What happens when the child’s role model acts in a negative way that could potentially hurt his or her reputation?

It seems like every day, professional athletes are posted in headlines about an act they have committed resulting in criminal charges, fines or suspensions.

New England Patriot tight end Aaron Hernandez is being questioned about a homicide he may be linked to. If proof that Hernandez is connected to the case, it will devastate fans of the New England Patriots and of Hernandez. Hernandez’s younger fans will question his judgment and deal with confusion about why their favorite football player could do such a thing.

I sometimes wonder if athletes truly think about the effect that they have on fans of all ages.

When it comes to more aggressive acts, such as rape and murder, it tends to have a greater effect on fans. Something that all professional, amateur and collegiate athletes need to think about is that they are leaders on and off the field or court.

No matter what he or she does or where he or she goes, that individual will have fans watching his or her every move. They want to see their favorite players succeed and be the best they can be.

All athletes should remember that there is always someone out there that wants to be just like them. If there were a better time to make the right decision, that time is now.