Sports stars and movie stars do have
an obligation to behave as role models. The athletes we see on television and
the celebrities the grace the covers of magazines today are at the pinnacle of their careers and they have made sacrifices
to achieve their goals. They have worked very hard to get into the spotlight
and they are fully aware of the effect they can have on younger generations. Young
people respect their achievements, enjoy their talents and look up to them as examples of what to strive for. As a consequence of being a paragon of sporting or acting excellence, athletes and actors - who are paid
considerable sums of money - must be role models in their professional and private lives in the active promotion of self-discipline,
charity and responsibility.
The temptations at the height of any
professional are difficult to resist. Many athletes and actors come from low-income
to middle-income backgrounds and when they achieve success they also achieve millions and million of dollars as well as fame
and critical acclaim. Thus, their self-discipline, ironically what we presume
got them to their current status, is placed under scrutiny. It is placed under
extreme pressures. With money comes power and with power it is easy to lose sight
of what is important. By our children being witness to our glorified celebrities
succumbing to various addictions (or bankruptcy) we are instilling the paradigm that achievement can bring about failure. Is this the message we want to impart on our children?
Athletes and actors must be role models
and they should use their celebrity status to do works of charity or support good causes.
Michael Jordon uses his money to support sports in inner-city schools so that other low socio-economic children can
have the opportunity to feel better about themselves and about school in general. However,
it doesn't have to be just charity work. Angelina Jolie's current role as a UN
Goodwill Ambassador has directly raised the profile of third world countries as people are drawn to her celebrity. Also, her decision to adopt children from both Cambodia and Africa has raised the
status of multiethnic adoption. Younger generations can clearly see that she
has tremendous resources, but that she values her celebrity status and will knowingly use it for good.
To become a star athlete or actor you
need to have a high sense of responsibility. Therefore there is no excuse when
celebrities do not behave like role models. While it is difficult to be an example
of excellence at all times, celebrities who exist in the public spotlight must be aware of the effect they have on younger
generations. Children look up to these men and women as heroes and when they
mess up, the need to take the opportunity to display responsibility by admitting they are wrong. Mike Tyson, who perhaps has the most massive public image problem, has even given money to domestic abuse
groups in an effort to show he has changed his ways from his previous run-ins with the law.
We do hold celebrities on a pedestal and when they fall we expect them to rectify the damage they have done. Taking responsibility for one's actions is being a role model and its impact is far-reaching to young people
To examine the other side of the issue
briefly it can be argued that celebrities increase their status (and wealthy) through misbehavior and we - as consumers -
are responsible for this. A significant proportion of us want to see how far
they can rise and how far they can fall. If misbehavior continues to be the route
to status then celebrities will have no incentive to behave professionally at all times.
If we expect athletes to be responsible then we must show the same level of responsibility in our continual expectation
that they be good role models.
In conclusion, our celebrities our paid
a lot of money and live a very luxurious lifestyle. A lifestyle that many of
us support directly through attending sporting events and films; it is not too much to ask them to behave responsibly in return. Young people are impressionable and we can only conceal them so much from the media
and from the world around them. When celebrities are no longer role models we
need to let their status (and bankability) drop; if we let them know our disapproval then we will promote the obligation that
they behave like responsible adults.