The question of who qualifies as a good role model is an issue we struggle with everyday. Movie stars, politicians, and professional athletes are our primary targets. We look to them for guidance in our everyday lives. Many of these so called role models get caught up in some type of scandal that reveals who they really are. For example, Tiger Woods, a fantastic professional golfer, a role model to men and women all over the world, turns out to be a “sex addict.” Chris Brown, a good-looking, successful musician is actually an abusive and violent man. Michael Vick, a beloved football great is convicted of animal abuse. How can we trust those we look up to to be good role models? Randy Rosenberger, associate professor of management, provides insight on qualifications and characteristics of a good role model worthy of looking up to.
1. Should movie stars, professional athletes, politicians, etc. be viewed/treated as role models?
We can’t help it…these folks will be role models…whether they should be or not is not even a relevant question.
2. Does society allow individuals with high profile scandals (Michael Vick, Tiger Woods, Chris Brown) to make a come back?
It does. These people do something well that causes others to identify with them…if you identify with them, you don’t want to dislike them. If they can remove the reason for the dislike, then they can come back.
3. When a successful comeback occurs, is it based on the caliber of the come back/how “good” it is or how it’s done or both?
First, you would have to be careful to define a “successful comeback”…I’m not sure exactly what that means. I don’t think there is a formula for a successful comeback, but it appears there are some who think there is. People in high places who do wrong seem to get advice that a quick apology is important. I don’t know that one formula works for all. Every fall from grace is different.
4. Is there too much pressure put on these people in the spotlight? Should we put our focus somewhere/someone else?
Yes, but it’s what we want…what society wants…and people who are thrust into the spotlight know what they are getting into. What they don’t know, often until it’s too late, is whether or not they can handle it.
5. What are good characteristics of a solid role model?
Anything that you can identify with as an individual…so it’s different for each of us. Some things do seem more universal, I guess…people who work hard, people who overcome adversity, people who are highly skilled…though I like people who are clever or funny…not everyone looks up to Trey Parker and Matt Stone (of “South Park”) as role models, but they appeal to me. Somewhere in the adopting of role models for oneself, it would be smart to recognize and/or accept that we are all just people…just human…this isn’t just for self-protection, it’s just a more sensible way to look at life. You’re not all that bad and no one else is necessarily all that great.
- Mary Munion ’12, Juniata Online Journalist