I Agree With Charles Barkley On This
Back in 1993, Charles Barkley released a commercial ad that I believe is still relevant today, especially in the digital age we live in. Below is a link to the commercial:
'I'm not a role model... Just because I dunk a basketball doesn't mean I should raise your kids." - Charles Barkley
I agree with this statement wholeheartedly. Charles goes on to say this: "Parents should be role models." He nails it.
If you look at athletes today, their "followers" are in the millions. Like it or not, sports stars have influence. They can tweet or post something and within seconds get reactions to it. If the followers like a certain post, the athlete may continue to post more of the same stuff, forming even more of a connection between the athlete and their followers. I'm thoroughly convinced that a fan might be more vulnerable to following their hero blindly, and kids are no exception. They may even be more impressionable. If a young child with a father as a role model can be heavily influenced by sports stars, how much more might this apply to child without a father in the home? This is what Charles was getting at in his message.
Children mimic what they see. How many times have you heard something like, "You got that from your mother/father." I don't know why this is but sports players have been given a burden of being role models to young children. Why? Athletes have to walk, talk, and act a certain way and if they depart from the given framework they are criticized. But why? They are athletes, and like Charles says, they are paid to play a sport - not to be role models.
But therein lies the problem, maybe parents have given their kids over to these athletes. Maybe parents have encouraged this by tuning into every game, buying the merchandise, and investing in season tickets, etc. There is nothing wrong with admiring someone's athletic skill, but when does one depart from admiration and embrace full allegiance?
To the parents, there has to be a line drawn somewhere. If you are going to watch someone because you like the sport, that's fine. However, it is important to be mindful of when that influence bleeding over into other areas of your life. Parents should be the ultimate earthly role models for their kids; they should model character, dignity, purity, love, and in my view, godliness. If your child looks more like what they see in the media, we have a problem.