On a role

An individual has many “roles” – only on stage is one completely defined by a particular “role”.

The idea that sports people are “role models” is a false premise being pushed onto society by the media.

It’s a good emotionally manipulative line to run – and no doubt it will sell papers. But the fallacy that Andrew Johns, and the unnamed AFL players from Hawthorn, have let society down because they are “role models” is wrong.

Aspiring sports stars may use them as archetypal sports models – ie I would love to be able to play football like Andrew Johns – and they could arguably be great models for drugtakers (a professional sports career seems to be one legal avenue for earning the money required to fund a recreational drug habit) but no one intelligent styles their life on these sportsmen.

Or at least, no one should.

It’s much more likely that people style themselves on elements of a number of influences – in particular parents. If people are looking to famous sportspeople for inspiration in every field (not just on the field) – then our society has a massive problem.

The NRL and AFL could easily let themselves off the PR hook when it comes to their player’s indiscretions by claiming no responsibility for their employee’s private lives. Some players may choose to act as role models through engaging in community activities and the like. But the umbrella bodies in each sport are perpetuating the problem by continuing to tout their stars as being allround good guys who everyone should aspire to.

Statistically speaking the chances of becoming a professional sportsperson are pretty slim – the number of children who genuinely have aspirations of becoming the next Andrew Johns will no doubt be disproportionate. But parents can not abdicate their basic responsibilities for the upbringing and character of their children to some pseudo nanny-state society where sports stars are surrogate parents. That’s bollocks.

The only reason that sports stars should be held accountable for their drug taking is the effect it must surely have on their ability to perform – and their long term health and wellbeing – which is the club’s responsibility.