Does Media,Fans, Prefer Dysfunctional Behavior Over Good?

By Joe Booker
Updated: June 10, 2005

HOUSTON, TX.—After watching some sports media and fans praise athletes that have dysfunctional behavior, it makes me wonder if dysfunctional behavior is preferred over athletes with good behavior? If the answer is no than why does dysfunctional behavior by athletes get so much attention?

. You will see young kids wearing jerseys with the name and number of athletes that display dysfunctional behavior. When you see high school football players diving into the end zone to score a touchdown, they are imitating the dysfunctional behavior of their role models, because that is what draws attention.

Too many people look to professional athletes, not parents and family members as role models. Some media insist that athletes are role models. Is just being an athlete the criteria to become a role model? The sad thing is that too many kids try to emulate the negative and dysfunctional behavior of athletes. Kids are smart enough to know that if they act dysfunctional they will get more publicity than they would if they acted normal.

Research has shown that most kids that look to athletes as their role models come from broken homes. They don’t have family members are friends that they can look up to. More boys than girls look to athletes as role models. Of all the girl athletes I have interviewed none have looked at athletes as role models.

As a kid growing up there were certain athletes that I looked up to as my heroes. I wanted to emulate their athletic skills, but the people that were my role models were my parents, teachers and other family members.

There are some athletes that carry themselves in a professional and positive way. Tim Duncan (Spurs), Grant Hill (Orlando Magic), Andre Johnson (Texans) and Carl Crawford (Tampa Bay Devil Rays) that have carried themselves in a positive manner. Although Duncan gets mentioned as one of the top players in the NBA, he does not get as much publicity as players with dysfunctional behavior get. How many Grant Hill jerseys do you see kids wearing? What athlete jersey sells the most? Get my drift?

Some of the other role models kids look up to are Jeremy Shockey (football), Frank Francisco (baseball), Latrell Sprewell (basketball), Mike Tyson (boxing), Jimmy Johnson (NASCAR) and Todd Bertuzzi (ice hockey). Keep in mind that each of the role models I mentioned have had issues.

To prove a point, recently an athlete was jailed for a felony and I saw several kids wearing the athlete’s jersey. Kids are obsessed with their role models regardless of their behavior.

It is a shame that just because some athletes only skill is shooting a basketball, score touchdowns, play hockey or hit baseballs better than anyone that they immediately become role models.

Are we becoming a society where dysfunctional behavior is welcomed? In a recent survey, it was reported that people that are rude and less friendly have more wealth than people who are friendly and giving. The media, especially, TV, lead their local news with something negative.

It is time for school districts, parents and legislatures to stress good character and getting along with each other as much as they stress having high test scores. Test scores prove that a student can pass a test. It does not prove that the student will be a productive citizen. Sometimes you can produce an educated fool. I have seen a lot of them. I still do. How many times have you read in the papers or saw on TV where a straight- A student has committed a felony? Just stressing high test scores won’t get it done.

“Can’t we all just get along?”

Have knowledge, have wisdom, but above all, have wisdom.