On the EDge: Where have all the role models gone?

OPINION – Where have all the role models gone, or were there ever any?

The National Football League finds itself neck-deep in bad public relations, or PR, and image as yet another pro football player ended up posing for a mugshot last week.

Adrian Peterson, a star running back for the Minnesota Vikings, turned himself in to police Saturday after a Montgomery County, Texas, grand jury indicted him on a felony charge of child abuse.

Peterson hasn’t made a public statement yet, but his attorney, Rusty Hardin, said that Peterson was charged because he used “a switch to spank his son” in doling out discipline, much like “he experienced as a child growing up in East Texas.”

In the wake of the Ray Rice scandal, this does the NFL’s image no good.

Sunday morning, the CBS pregame show featured an exchange between former NFLer and Pittsburgh Steeler coach Bill Cowher and Charles Barkley, who made a living dunking basketballs in the NBA.

Barkley argued that athletes should not be revered as role models, that many just don’t fit the mold. Cowher disagreed.

Barkley was one of the few NBA stars I enjoyed watching. He was tough, incredibly talented, and, most of all, brutally honest.

He earned a level of respect from me when, during the ‘90s, he put together one of the most straightforward commercials I have ever seen when his signature Nikes went on the market.

“These are my new shoes,” he told viewers. “They’re good shoes. They won’t make you rich like me, they won’t make you rebound like me, they definitely won’t make you handsome like me. They’ll only make you have shoes like me. That’s it.”

Barkley’s got an ego. He’s a rough and tumble guy. He’s been picked up by the cops for a DUI. I wouldn’t want a child to look up to him as a role model, but neither would he, and for that, I respect his honesty.

And, that’s the trouble with sports.

The money is so big, the endorsements so important, that it’s no surprise when team and league officials downplay it when some overpriced jock gets hauled into jail.

Only now, it’s not so easy and sooner or later, the truth has a way of surfacing.

We’re still wondering what the NFL knew and when it knew it in regards to the Ray Rice domestic violence case. And, I can certainly understand the doubters and skeptics who are calling for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s head.

Read more: On the EDge: NFL takes bold stride in supporting women

But, at least he admitted bad judgment in the way he originally handled the situation and took steps to correct it, rewriting the league’s policy and stiffening penalties for offenders.

What has your company or place of work done to combat domestic violence? Is there a policy in place to punish offenders? Is there some kind of program or training available to stamp out this scourge?

I didn’t think so.

But, the larger issue remains regarding role models, which we seem to be hooked on, and quite frankly, at this point, I don’t think there is a field from which to draw any.

Whether it’s from the world of sports, entertainment, politics, religion, science, or wherever, we have learned that far too many heroes have feet of clay.

For some, it simply doesn’t matter.

We’ve seen presidents who were womanizers, drunks, and addicts; spiritual leaders with predatory sexual habits; musicians who preached “Give Peace A Chance” to a public that was ignorant of the fact that at home, their “star” was a serial wife beater.

Still we feed their wallets and egos.

It’s time to tear down those pedestals and assume some responsibility for guiding our children and others along a more enlightened path that may not lead to a $100 million celebrity contract, but will teach civility, love, and respect for our fellow woman and man.

I was shocked by the number of people, for example, who showed up at the Baltimore Ravens game a week ago wearing replicas of Ray Rice’s uniform jersey as a show of support for this thug. I found it repugnant that his wife was forced into the position of defending this man and, obliquely, assuming some responsibility for getting punched senseless in a hotel elevator.

You have the power to change this, you know.

Just stop watching their games, buying their CDs, following them in worship, voting for them, making them into these fictional characters that are beyond reproach and giving them a pass when they cross over those distinct lines of decency.

You have the power to influence by word and deed to teach civility, respect, restraint. Don’t hand it over to somebody you’ve never met just because they can run with a football, sing a nice song, or happen to sit in a position of authority.

The telling line in all of this surfaced in the statement by Peterson’s attorney, who said his client was simply doling out discipline much like “he experienced as a child growing up in East Texas.”

Beating a child, a partner, anybody, is not acceptable, no matter how one was raised. Those actions, we have learned, only propagate the behavior to ensuing generations.

There’s a meme I’ve seen posted on Facebook a sickening number of times that refers to how some of us were raised – including beatings with belts, switches, or other objects – as a way we learned, “… and we turned out OK,” it usually says in summation.

No we are not OK, not as long as we perpetuate violence and disrespect and hatred and a system that makes it OK to beat your wife or child as long as you are a sports hero.

I wrote recently that the NFL took a bold step in the right direction with its new policy on domestic violence.

I’ll stand by that, although we are learning that, perhaps, Goodell was responding to public pressure rather than acting in good conscience.

But, at least he did something.

As parents, we too can do something, and that is to become the kind of role models our children deserve.

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Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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  • Brian September 16, 2014 at 10:20 am

    On this we can agree 100%. Good article, Ed.

  • JAR September 16, 2014 at 10:40 am

    I Like your opinion on this one Ed.
    But getting spanked by your folks as a means to educate is cool too. And getting a failing grade in school if your not into doing your homework assignments and scoring a big 20% on your test is right also.
    (I wonder what Rice’s girl friend said to him to make him lose his cool?)

  • Linda September 16, 2014 at 11:39 am

    I second that! Excellent article!!

  • Koolaid September 16, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    The kinda role models you find in Cedar: https://www.stgeorgeutah.com/news/archive/2014/09/16/hrc-burglary-arrest-leads-multiple-charges#.VBh8sld0Yyg

    • Anti Koolaid September 16, 2014 at 3:20 pm

      What kind of role model are you.
      Sorry I’m not being rude. Your just insignificant.

  • Ron September 16, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    There is a difference between spanking and beating your children, and as long as its done with some restraint and an open hand to the bottom I see nothing wrong with it. I constantly see children out in public that have no resprect for others or others personal property and its those children that have never felt an open hand placed frimly to their bottoms. I agree that a child should never be beaten with a belt, switch, or other implement of pain but a spanking as described above i think should be used more often.

  • Dana September 16, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    Parents SHOULD be the role models. Not over paid athletes. Not wanna be gangsta rappers. Not the preacher. Not the Bishop. Not politicians. Not the coaches. Parents. Do. Your. Job. Nuff said.

  • My Evil Twin September 16, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    Good article here, Ed. Although I do agree with what Ron said in his post. There are some things, (very few, admittedly,) that deserve corrective action of the hand to the bottom.
    Clear back when I was a cop, LAPD was telling kids, “there is no reason for a parent, or anyone else to ever spank you. If you are spanked, tell a teacher or counselor and we will come and arrest whoever spanked you.” Now that had to be the all time stupidest statement I have ever heard. Spoken by a total idiot.

    • Toad Stool December 11, 2014 at 6:57 pm

      And your a liar because it never happened your comment is that of a total idiot

      • My Evil Twin December 11, 2014 at 10:12 pm

        Whatever you want to believe, formerly known as zonkerb. aka, little zonker baby.

  • Lance September 16, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    The fact people think pro athletes should be considered as role models is a symptom of the people’s own entertainment addictions. Rice is just the current celebrity voyeurism used to keep the NFL junkies juiced up. USA people are as corrupt as any 3rd world country and hardly one isn’t out looking to chisel a buck out of any other person.

  • Parents September 16, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    Dana said it. Parents are the role models. Not celebrities of any kind. Peterson did beat his kid and it should be taken care of. He said it happened to him as a kid. I believe him. I also believe he did not know any different. Just like kids who are sexually abused act different. One time my kid fell and got a concussion. She threw up once and so I treated her as I was treated when I was young by my parents. Don’t let her sleep. I was ridiculed for not taking her to doctor. I did as I was taught.
    Rice, has no excuse. The District Attorneys and Prosecutors should be fired for not starting the case correctly. It should not have gotten this far.
    Hope Solo will pay dearly for her DV in Seattle because that city let her husband off with Rape and DUI’s when he was playing football at U of W. The District Attorney will go overboard on her.
    It starts with parents and how we are raised and raise our children. When a big mistake is made the law takes over and who knows how well they will do their job.
    So, you have not enough by and too much of parenting, law, violence, idolizing, media coverage and dishonesty.

  • Bender September 16, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    Thanks heavens we can always look up to our conservative political commentators in the media as wholesome role models.

  • Patchiz October 3, 2014 at 8:39 am

    I tried to stay away from browsing the http://www.stgeorgeutah.com/arrests/ page I really did try, and then I caved in and of course saw one of “those” people generally thought of in high esteem and beyond reproach,” allegedly innocent” of the charges locked up for one of the most difficult crimes to be compassionate towards, drug peddling. It would appear “King Arthur” and CEO of VanderWall Theatre Guild https://www.facebook.com/groups/230493780316366/ took a little tumble. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnMGrs5Jvu0 The welcoming statement to the VTG is as follows: “Okay, welcome to the new and improved VTG (VanderWall Theatre Guild). My new goal is to keep everyone informed on what is happening, that I am aware of anyway, in the acting industry. I want to build a large data base of all my close friends that I have acted with or that are interested in acting with me in the future. From time to time I will be posting different auditions on the group page. Now here is the great thing, there are a few Directors that have been added to the group as well, and everyone will be able to post notices on it. So if you have been in the group for awhile or have just recently been added it is because I want you to be involved with me. Enjoy and feel free to leave comments in the group.” The CEO not once responded to my requests to join the group on the FB page, which was a kick in the teeth because VTG was my idea and I actually formed the first members. I laid out the ground work and then was shut out for reasons unknown to me. UNTIL today. Now I can celebrate my non association with a new found vigor!

  • Beavan October 3, 2014 at 10:17 am

    @Patchiz you are a small, sad person. Sounds like you’re a little bit bitter because little Brucey didn’t respond to your fb request. How juvenile. Using and relishing in someone elses folly to try and win friends… sad, just sad! Maybe you should thank God it panned out this way so that your sad little reputation wasn’t marred. Idiot!

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