The moral responsibility of an athlete


AFP via Getty Images

A page in the report released by investigator George J. Mitchell about performance-enhancing drug use in baseball refers to players Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, Jeremy Giambi, Armando Rios and Gary Sheffield in relation to the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative (BALCO) scandal, 13 December 2007, at a press conference in New York. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP via Getty Images)

The word “role model” is thrown around but not always taken seriously. Influence is a powerful tool that can be used for good or malice. Kids learn from people above them and oftentimes, that influence shapes their futures. After all, with great power, comes even greater responsibility. 

Kids idolize many different types of people, but the most common types are athletes. Some children even want to grow up to be just like these athletes. Adolescents want to train like their idols and act like their heroes. So if athletes have this big of an influence on kids, then they know how important it is to be a good role model, right? 

Former athletes like OJ Simpson might feel otherwise. With his fame and skill in his sport, he was once seen as a hero by some. Unfortunately, with the high status that he had, he couldn’t cover up his immoral behavior. Professional athletes physically sign contracts but also morally sign them too. Athletes take up the agreement that any mistake they make can be costly to their careers, and that is partly due to the incredible influences that they have on the youth.

It doesn’t stop at Simpson either. Players like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa chose to cheat, while already being considered all-stars by the baseball community. While they still had the skills to play the game, they lost the respect of people due to their giving up on morals. Morals are important to everyone but especially to young kids who don’t know any better. There is a saying that goes “Never meet your heroes,” and this is why. While everyone has separate lives outside of work or school, when those lifestyles are revealed, athletes lose credibility and respect. 

So other than having no criminal charges and not cheating, are there moral requirements to be a pro athlete? Sadly, there are not. As long as athletes can perform well in their sports, then they are given all the power to influence people. Athletes are leaders on the field but also off of the field. They are not only leaders to their current teammates but also to the new generations of athletes. Pro athletes need to know how much influence they have. Every good and bad thing an athlete does is known to the world. We live in a world where the news gets out quickly through a click of a button. 

What can athletes do to prepare the new generations? Professional athletes can promote themselves and their moral values by doing good things for society. Many pros have gone to hospitals through the Make-A-Wish program and have spent time with the children who are sick. Malicious actions spread quickly but so do wholesome actions. Professional athletes need to spread positivity faster than negativity. I am not sure about you, but personally, I don’t want another Pete Rose.