Who do you want to be like?

Nov. 25, 2012 @ 08:07 AM

We live in a community where high school athletics are extremely important. This isn't Chapel Hill or Clemson where we have a major college program in our backyard. This isn't Charlotte or Atlanta where professional sports dominate the headlines.

This is Rutherford County where our children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, cousins, brothers, sisters and friends are the superstars.

Those are the athletes that grace the front pages of my sports section. These young athletes aspire to play college athletics and maybe even reach the professional level.

As they progress in their sports and aspire to continue playing at the next level, it's innate to strive to be like someone who has reached the level that they want to reach.

That's all good and well, children and young adults should have role models, but are there really any that are worthy of it in today's sports world?

We're living in a time where college athletes are "taken care of" by professors at a North Carolina university that I won't name. Hell, they don't even have to write their own papers.

Star plays at Ohio State traded conference championship rings for tattoos. These athletes that kids strive to be like traded priceless rewards that they earned through hard work for barbwire armbands, chinese symbols and rap lyrics on their biceps.

The countries biggest recruits are taking money from boosters left and right.

Heisman trophy candidates are being kicked off of teams for repeated drug violations.

Then in the professional ranks you have star quarterbacks going to jail for dog fighting and being accused of sexual assault in a bar.

Big name receivers are shooting themselves in the leg at night clubs.

Defensive linemen are stomping on arms and kicking players in the private zone while linebackers and safeties are head-hunting everyone else.

Baseball players can't seem to stay away from steroids and basketball players can't seem to stay in school.

The world's greatest golfer can't stay away from adult film stars and even Olympic heroes are taking bong hits at college parties.

Who can we honestly tell our young athletes to aspire to be like?

Of course there are still those older professionals who always seem to do the right things. We still have the Derek Jeter's of the world. We still have Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and you could even make a case for Dwayne Wade.

Even some that have fallen out of the public's good graces have found ways to rebuild their image and turn into respectable public figures such as Ray Lewis, Michael Vick and Kobe Bryant.

Now we have an influx of young professionals like Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck who excel on the field as well as life in general.

Hopefully these young stars can continue on their current path and avoid all the mess that seems to swallow up superstars.

My point is that it's hard to find a good role model for young athletes when it seems that those who get the most attention are getting the attention for the wrong reasons. Hopefully they're smart enough to realize who is worthy of emulating and who isn't.