Having talent doesn’t make you a role model. Nor should it.


People who know me well will be very surprised that I’m including baseball in today’s blog post – because, honestly, I’m so over baseball. True, I’ve enjoyed attending games during our various road trips – but that’s mainly due to the exciting atmosphere of a ball park. Oh, and the hotdogs and cotton candy. The game itself kinda bores me, and people talking about it is even more tiresome. This normally isn’t a problem. My girlfriends usually don’t talk sports, and the men in my life know enough to limit it to one or two sentences when they just can’t control themselves. Now that the Toronto Blue Jays are on a dream dash in the direction of the World Series, however, I can’t escape the game or the talk, and it’s driving me crazy. (This dark confession could lead to calls for the revocation of my Canadian citizenship, but I’ll take that risk for the sake of this blog post.)

Yesterday morning, Ryan and I were sitting in the parking lot, avoiding the trek to the office by listening to a couple of guys mumbling on the radio. Ok, so Ryan probably heard them talking about sports, as it was TSN 1200 Ottawa – but I the sound I heard resembled Charlie Brown’s teacher. I perked up when I heard a voice complaining about José Bautista’s now-famous celebratory bat toss. This act has attracted pearl-clutching from a few directions, including whoever-it-was I heard whining through our car speakers. According to the haters, Bautista flipping that bat was cocky, tacky and dangerous. Personally, I don’t see it as a big deal. So it was a little reckless …. However, the man is a member of a team that just knocked out another team 6-3 on their way to the World Series. His entire country is cheering for him. This may just be the dizzy peak of his baseball career, and it is something all the little Jays fans of today will grow up talking about. In a moment like that, you don’t look around to see who might get clipped by your jazz hands – you freak out!

Justification aside, what really steams my broccoli is all the talk of role models. “Little kids who play baseball want to grow up to be just like José Bautista. What are they supposed to think of his behaviour? Blah, blah, blah …. he is a role model.”  (The last two words are spoken at a volume only dogs can hear, with the regard typically reserved for Jesus, Mother Theresa and people’s grandmothers.) The problem is that he’s not a role model. He’s just a guy who’s really good at baseball. All pro sports people are exactly that: people who are good enough at their game to make a living playing it. Pop stars are just people who are (in most cases) marginally good at singing and dancing, and may know how to play an instrument passably.  Actors are just …. well, actors. Politicians are …. um, does anyone really know what politicians are? Anyway, you get my drift. People in the public eye are not there because they boast outstanding character. They are there because they are famous, and they are famous because at some point they’ve outperformed somebody at something.

Fiona and Bridget are ten and eight. They are both big fans of pop music. This means they listen to material of varied quality by people of questionable quality. Sometimes, these people behave very badly. This doesn’t bother me at all. Why? Because they are pop stars, not priests or teachers or childcare providers. If they do something that requires a side-eye, we give it to them, and then we talk about it. Fiona and Bridget know that stars are only human, and that their music is what they offer – nothing more. Parents are in charge of the message and how it is received. Calling someone a role model just because they’ve become famous is silly, and unfair to a person who’s just living their life. Raise your own kids, and be a role model yourself. Let stars live their lives as they please.


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