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The Watering Hole: Athlete isn't a synonym for role model

February 6, 2014

By Michael Waterloo
Of The Spirit

Jonathan Martin has some explaining to do.

After months and months of going on about the abuse, rather, bullying he received in the Miami Dolphins' locker room, particularly from Richie Incognito, text messages were released that showed some inconsistencies in Martin's story.

Now, defending Incognito is something I never thought I would do, and frankly, he's still a pig, but after reading each and every one of the 1,000-plus text messages exchanged between the two offensive linemen over the past year-plus, this doesn't seem as if it's a case of bullying.

The two would go back-and-forth via text, launching insults at each other that I would never dream of putting in the newspaper, even if I were allowed.

At the end of the exchange, Incognito told Martin that he's been through enough (expletive) himself, and that he can help him out with whatever he was going through.

Incognito went on to say that he missed Martin's "smelly armpits" and that he was there for him for support.

Then, Incognito asked why the story was being told by Martin's agent that Incognito was the bully.

Martin responded that he never said anything, and Incognito asked if the two could talk, as he feared that he would be released by Miami.

There are holes everywhere in the story, and that's something that the crew that is investigating the story has to look at.

My take from the whole thing is this: Martin is a pig, and Incognito is in the same sty as him.

The exchange between the two reads like an exchange between two frat brothers, as my friend Travis pointed out.

There were countless amounts of homosexual insults, derogatory references to women, mentions of drugs and getting "wasted."

It's sick and pathetic, and for some reason, these are still the people we consciously or subconsciously point our youth to look up to.

This isn't as simple as saying that Martin and Incognito are two rotten apples in the bunch that is the NFL.

No, not at all.

Any team, and frankly, any of the major leagues in our fine country, has these athletes in their locker rooms and on their payrolls.

They are men and women who put on a front for the cameras, and they know exactly the right things to say and when.

Behind closed doors, things are totally different.

These aren't assumptions; these are from people who have been there.

Josh Miller, the former Steelers punter and current host on 93.7 The
Fan, said that the terms and words that get thrown around in a locker
room are extreme.

It's not just the words that they throw around, but it's their actions.

Countless numbers of arrests, a more-than-you'd-think number of athletes going bankrupt after their careers and sketchy behavior off the field
are the commonality of the athletes we view day in and day out.

But yet, these are the role models we want our kids to have.
Athletes should not be role models, nor do they have the responsibility to assume such a role.

They happen to be normal people, who are extremely talented at their given sport and get paid handsomely for it.

They have their duties with the media, and they'll attend public events, but role models they are not.

Being that they are in the public eye and we see them on television gives us the false assumption that we should imitate what they do or look up to them.

Some take on the role of a role model, even though they don't have to.
Peyton Manning is a prime example.

After the Super Bowl loss the Seattle Seahawks, Manning left the locker room and signed countless amounts of material for fans.

John Cena — debate if he's in a sport if you want, but he's a world-class athlete — holds the record for most Make-a-Wish requests granted.

Not all of these guys are bad seeds, if you will, but for every Manning, Cena or Andrew McCutchen, you'll have your Incognitos, Martins and Aaron Hernandezs.

For every Arthur Ashe, there's a Barry Bonds.

For each Steve Young or Warren Moon, who have their own charities, ("Forever Young Foundation" and "Crescent Moon Foundation") there's a Lance Armstrong with his "Livestrong" brand.

While I'm in full support of all the money and awareness Armstrong raised with his foundation, as an athlete, I lost any respect I had for him when he was caught doping and lying about it.

You can watch LeBron James or Kobe Bryant and admire their play, or even go buy their shoes, if you so wish.

Don't look up to James or Bryant as a role model, though, because that's not what they are there for.

They are there to entertain and play a sport.

Same goes with the other celebrities in the world, as editor of The Spirit, Zak Lantz, so eloquently addressed in his column last week about Justin Bieber or "The Biebs," as Lantz likes to refer to him.
They are entertainers; that's it.

When I have children of my own, god-willing it's down the road a bit, then I'll allow them to participate in sports — except football — and
watch the sports.

I'll let the posters hang on the wall, and the autographs accrue, but I'll remind them weekly, if not daily, that the role models they have aren't on the field, but in their house.

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