Teen sports scene

Pro athletes are role models — and should act accordingly

By George Harvey | Jun 30, 2013
George Harvey

Professional athletes are looked upon as role models by children and young adults on a daily basis. For this reason, athletes should remember, when they make decisions they are being viewed as role models.

Since it is a topic being talked about in New England and, in fact, across America, let us use Aaron Hernandez, former tight end for the New England Patriots of the National Football League, as an example.

Hernandez has been accused of murdering Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player for the Boston Bandits, a member of the New England Football league. In recent weeks, the 27-year-old Lloyd, who had to pay to play for the Bandits, according to Yahoo! Sports, was found dead in North Attleborough, Mass., one mile from Hernandez’s house. According to WBZ-TV in Boston, Lloyd was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancé.

Hernandez, who was arrested the morning of June 26 and appeared before a judge for a bail hearing that afternoon, has pleaded not guilty to the charges of first-degree murder, one count of carrying a firearm without a license, two counts of possessing a large-capacity firearm and two counts of possessing a firearm without an FID card (which is a firearm ID card that allows the holder to possess non-large-capacity rifles and shotguns in their home. It is not the same as a license to carry).

The Connecticut-born Hernandez, who was released by the Patriots less than two hours after his arrest, was denied bail at his initial bail hearing. Following the hearing, Hernandez’s defense attorneys filed an appeal of bail denial, which was heard the afternoon of June 27. After about 35 to 40 minutes of both the prosecution and the defense presenting their points, Superior Court Judge Renee Dupuis denied the petition for appeal, which has left Hernandez behind bars.

Of course, Hernandez is considered innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.

Now that the background of this column has been covered, let me dive into the reason for this article: professional athletes need to remember they are role models for many — like it or not. Young children to prospective college and pro athletes look up to at least one pro athlete.

Admirers of pro athletes are influenced by the action of those athletes, their so-called role models. As pro athletes continue to be arrested for crimes ranging from driving-under-the-influence of alcohol to murder, impressionable children and young adults are confused by the actions of their role models. This is something that all pro athletes need to keep in mind when participating in illegal activity.

According to a database compiled by the San Diego Union-Tribune, Hernandez is the 28th player from the National Football League to be arrested since the Feb. 3 Super Bowl. From drug- and alcohol-related offenses, to assault and murder offenses, 28 arrests of NFL players in fewer than five months is outrageous. Especially considering how many of these offenses could have been preventable, if not all of them.

When impressionable high school and college students see their sports-related role model being arrested for a drug-related offense, they can get the impression that it is fine for them to use drugs because, well, it is fine for the pro athlete.

However, this is not the case and pro athletes need to remember this when participating in any activity outside of their respective sport. Not only will it reflect poorly on themselves and the team they represent, it also may impact the lives of their admirers in a negative way.

That reason alone can sum up this entire column — professional athletes need to remember their actions are viewed — and sometimes copied — by many young, impressionable human beings when both the pro athlete and youngster make life choices.

George Harvey, an intern for Courier Publications, lives in Coral Springs, Fla., except in the summer, when he resides in Warren. The incoming Coral Springs Christian School junior has had a passion for sports journalism since a young age. He can be reached by email at georgeharvey225@yahoo.com.

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