Like it or not you’re a role model

With the current media lax in coverage of the Bulls vs. Suns series, The Northern Star feels an obligation to give you the details of inattentive analysis as always.

I’m sure you haven’t had enough basketball bantering as June nears to a close, so I’m going to discuss the famed Nike commercial by Sir Charles “I’m no role model” Barkely.

If you’ve turned on your television in the past two months I’m sure you’ve seen the angry young bald man dunk a basketball in a dimly lit court while discrediting himself as a role model for our youth.

I like Charles for the most part. I like to watch him play. This week I’d rather watch him lose for the most part, but that’s beside the point.

After viewing the commercial in question, I knew there was something I didn’t like about it, but it took me awhile to put my finger on it.

Perhaps, I was jealous. I can’t dunk a donut. I also must spend 30 valuable seconds a day on my hair, hat days excluded. Sir Charles has no such dilemma.

After this bit of rather deep soul-searching, I concluded that it was the moral message rather than the muscular messenger himself that solicited my uneasy response.

When I was a kid, I looked up to athletes. Walter Payton, Dr. J and George Brett were quasi-heroes of mine. They showed me what hard work, talent and dedication can do. They were bigger than life. I was a mediocre athlete so I never formed my life around them, mind you, but they were important figures nonetheless.

Today we still see athlete-spokespersons for child abuse, AIDS and scores of charities and rightfully so. People have a lot of respect for athletes. Kids have a lot of respect for athletes. They sell causes just as well as products as every advertiser worth his salt knows.

Charles doesn’t want to assume this role and while I admire his honesty, like it or not, he will be a role model. He may not be a good role model, but he’ll be one regardless. Every time he shows his mug on the tube, he becomes more of a role model.

I don’t think Charles is too bad of a guy anyway, at worst he seems to have a temper and language problem, but I’m puzzled at his attitude about this role model thing.

He’s right. Parents should be role models, but the fact is they often aren’t. In many cases they’re not even around. Charles’ noble attempt to duck his role model calling seems like a cop out.

That’s terrific if a kid really admires his parents and chooses to model his life after them, but what if he can’t? What if a boy never even met his father or grew up without one? Perhaps Charles is too busy screaming at refs and selling shoes for them.

I’m sorry but Charles absolutely has a responsibility to children. As a superstar he has an obligation to millions of adoring young fans. If he can’t handle it maybe he should shut up and play basketball as he does best and cool it with the shoe salesman bit.

I wouldn’t even hold Charles to any special standards as a world-famous athlete. We all have a very definite responsibility to the children of this country.

Many parents aren’t even willing to take the responsibility of teaching their own children about right and wrong. That’s pretty sad, but you and I share that responsibility whether they’re our kids or not.

That’s a pretty awesome responsibility but if we won’t take it for the kids, I doubt if we’ll take it for ourselves.

Maybe athletes shouldn’t be role models for kids. If they’re not willing, maybe they shouldn’t try to sell them shoes either.

Maybe the role model Charles is trying to be—however unintentionally—is a hypocrite.