Professional athletes are role models: It’s time to start acting like one

There are plenty of perks that accompany being famous, especially if you are a professional athlete.

Big-money contracts. Performance incentives. Apparel deals. Public appearances. Movie cameos.

The list goes on and on.

With all of those comes responsibility, though. I’m not talking solely on the field or court and whether or not you live up to the hype. I’m talking about what you do off the field.

As a high-profile member of society, you immediately become a role model — whether you like it or not. Children want to be like INSERT ATHLETE and do everything in their power to do so. They want a silky smooth shot like Steph Curry, so they practice their jump shot in the driveway until the sun goes down. They want to hit home runs like Barry Bonds, so they go to the batting cage and swing at fastballs until their hands blister.

Athletes have a massive influence on the youth of society.

It’s why their actions outside of the playing realm are magnified and should be taken very, very seriously. Off-the-field issues have always been prevalent and continue to plague some of the country’s high-profile athletes.

Plaxico Burress shot himself in the leg because he brought a gun to a club. Michael Phelps has been caught smoking a bong. Ray Rice knocked out his girlfriend — now wife (what?!) — in a hotel elevator. Greg Hardy violently abused his former girlfriend to a point where she allegedly begged him to “kill me so I don’t have to.” Adrian Peterson beat his son with a switch. Now, Aroldis Chapman’s gun and domestic violence incident on Oct. 30 has resurfaced as the fireball-throwing closer is on the verge of being traded.

The trade is being postponed until Major League Baseball investigates the incident further in accordance with the league’s new domestic violence policy.

According to the police report first obtained by Yahoo Sports, Chapman fired eight gunshots in the garage of his Davie, Fla., home and was accused of choking his girlfriend. Chapman admitted to police that he fired the gun, but denied choking his girlfriend.

A classic case of he said, she said.

Nonetheless, whether he’s guilty or not, something needs to change.

I understand domestic violence is all too prevalent in our society but physically or mentally abusing your significant other over INSERT A USUALLY TRIVIAL REASON — in Chapman’s case, as his girlfriend told police, it was being questioned about something on his cell phone — is no excuse, especially if you are a role model.

Children look up to you. They see you treat your girlfriend, fiancé, wife, child, whatever a certain way, and they are going to believe it is OK to do the same. They see you pitch a certain way and try to emulate it, so why wouldn’t they try to mimic your other actions?

Former New York City FC defender Jeb Brovsky has, unfortunately, seen his fair share of abuse toward women throughout the world. Through his foundation Peace Pandemic, Brovsky and his wife, Caitlin, have been to orphanages in Guatemala and poverty stricken villages in India while trying to utilize soccer to better society.

“What we realized was that the women were the most marginalized people in those societies and the violence toward them both structurally and physically was appalling to us,” Brovsky said. “For me, to prevent this from happening, we need to raise better men.”

It sounds so simple but it’s way harder than it seems.

You can “force” young adults to watch videos, listen to testimonials or take classes on domestic violence, but in the heat of the moment, they aren’t going to think about a random woman named Tammy, who was abused during her pregnancy. They are going to think of their favorite athlete and incorrectly justify, “He’s successful. I want to be successful. What would HE do in this situation?”

We need our professional athletes to stand up and change this perception. They need to be held accountable for their actions. Greg Hardy is playing for the Dallas Cowboys. Aroldis Chapman is a member of the Cincinnati Reds (until he’s possibly traded pending the MLB investigation). Adrian Peterson plays for the Minnesota Vikings.

I understand there is still the right to due process and you are innocent until proven guilty but if a woman approaches the police with a black eye and marks up and down her body saying her famous athlete boyfriend beat her, well, it’s hard to argue against it most of the time.

Man up. Set the right example for the betterment of society’s youth or this terrible cycle will never cease.

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