CharacterMeasures Blog

Welcome to The Character Coach blog. Once a week (or more or less) we will be blogging about a character issue on display in recent news stories. We may also just write about a certain character trait and possibly taken right out of my life. The issue will usually involve a high school, college or professional athlete or coach. We will be seeking positive stories as often as possible but, we will write about the tough stories too. Occasionally, we may also feature one of our partners whose content we feel would be of interest to our readers.


The Character Coach blog - Blog #0006 - March 17, 2019

Athletes as Role Models

Back in 1993, in a commercial for Nike, Charles Barkley famously said, “I'm not paid to be a role model. I'm paid to wreak havoc on the basketball court."

My response? Too bad Charles. Being a role model comes with the territory of being a world-famous professional athlete. Even 26 years later and no longer playing the game, I would say he is a role model still because he is an NBA analyst. 

In response to the commercial, another NBA player, Karl “The Mailman” Malone said, "Charles...I don't think it's your decision to make. We don't choose to be role models, we are chosen. Our only choice is whether to be a good role model or a bad one."


Malone, just like his nickname implies, delivered, as always!

Malone is 100% correct! Professional athletes are chosen. They’ve been blessed with world-class athleticism. Less than one percent of high school athletes make it to the professional level. They are most definitely chosen. They are a rare combination of size, strength, speed, agility, skill, and athleticism.

I argue that athletes and being a role model start a lot earlier than the professional level.

I recall being in sixth grade and even though the athletes at my local high school were in classes with my older siblings, I still looked up to them as being larger than life. They were playing the games I wanted to play in front of 6,000 people! I loved sports when I was young (and still do!) and thought athletes were everything. It’s all I wanted to be and do - play sports!

Athletes, no matter their age, are role models. Society expects it! Sports fans of all ages pick up on the habits, mannerisms, clothing styles, cliches, touchdown celebrations, ‘high five’ variations, etc. of high profile athletes all the time. The term ‘high profile’ is relative in this context. In my hometown of Moline, IL, the home of John Deere farm equipment, high school athletes were all there was! No pro sports, only a Class A minor league baseball team, Augustana College, an NCAA Division III school and an NAIA college just across the Mississippi River, in Davenport, IA. If you excelled at high school sports, you were pretty well known around the area. I suspect that is, even more, the case in the rural towns around the country.

So, athletes from high school and up, remember that people of all ages - particularly young athletes - are always watching you.