Be careful what you ask for.
18 years ago Charles Barkley claimed not to be a role model. At best, Barkley suggested that professional athletes should not be role models. At worst, he was another whiny millionaire publicly lamenting the public nature of his public life.
I heard it again this week – though from a lesser athlete. Not much lesser; this man, who will remain unidentified here, played major league baseball for 13 years and hit nearly 300 over his career. That means he was good. Really good.
Really good at baseball, anyway. In front of a group of high school students at a scholarship recognition banquet, well, maybe not so good. Like Barkley before him, this individual lamented seeing pro athletes as role models.
He did, at least, realize that it happens. Early in his career, he shared, a 10 year old boy came up to him after a game, asked for his autograph. He obliged. Then the boy showed him the earring he had gotten “that’s just like yours.” The man quit wearing an earing that night.
It is interesting to me that professional athletes don’t want us to watch them. Our culture is built on living vicariously through almost anybody; especially the thrilling lives of the rich, famous, and impressively talented Athletic Class. Their being rich, in fact, depends on the same drive that puts them before us as people to be imulated.
Much as the baseball veteran told the young people not to see him as a role model, I have to think that the adults who invited him to be the special guest speaker feel otherwise.
Having said this, they might have encouraged him to make a few less jokes about betting on his golf games with friends.
On the other hand, we have the Apostle Paul, who invited people to follow his example. “Do what I do,” he said.
As the risk of being taken seriously, I’m with Paul. Follow my example. Do what I do.
And please, call me on the carpet if you find something questionable.