Athletes are some of the most celebrated and watched people in the U.S. Both professional and collegiate athletes can turn into overnight celebrities and develop large fan bases of children and adults.
Many coaches, fans and the media expect athletes to behave up to a certain standard and be a role model to the public. But are athletes required to be a role model or are they, in the end, just athletes?
In 1993, NBA player Charles Barkley gained fame for a Nike commercial where he said, "I’m not a role model. Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.” Barkley's words started talk about the role model status given to sports figures, and this debate has continued until today.
We conducted a Facebook survey, answered by 200 people, about whether athletes are role models (seen in the infographic). While most people answered that they were role models and should speak out on social issues, many people answered no or that it depends.
One of those who answered no was Jamie Kovatchis, an Illinois. sophomore. She said that athlete protests can be distracting and they don't need to speak out about certain issues.
"I think that people are coming to watch the actual sporting event and they’re not necessarily there for a social stand, that’s not what they paid for."
Illinois sophomore MaryAllison Mahacek disagreed and said athletes are role models to children and fans and should act accordingly.
Listen more about athletes' role model status here.