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Rooney-gate: Is it time to forget the notion of footballers as role models?

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07 Sep 2010 13:39:51

Rooney-gate: Is it time to forget the notion of footballers as role models?

Football.co.uk's three panellists address footballers' behaviour off the pitch, as Wayne Rooney battles tabloid revelations surrounding his marriage.

We ask the experts...Is it time to forget the notion of footballers as role models?

"DON'T TURN TO FOOTBALL FOR A LIFE COACH," - Will Tidey, Sports Editor

If the Rooney allegations are founded, England's best footballer is clearly not our best qualified to serve as a beacon of moral decency. But I think we knew that already. And I doubt he cares.

Rooney's certainly not the first professional athlete to find himself splashed on the front pages for the wrong reasons, and he won't be the last. Take a gifted teenager, add adulation and more money than they'll ever need, and the results are often rather predictable.

That's not to say Rooney doesn't have a host of qualities we'd all like to see in our children. He's tenacious, hard-working and passionate about what he does. He's also broken into one of the most competitive industries on the planet and proved himself against the most resilient of opponents.

Does that make him a role model? On a professional level, it absolutely does. But if you're looking for a life coach, Rooney and the many in his mould are best avoided.

"THERE ARE PLENTY OF ROLE MODELS IN THE GAME," - Joe Strange, Football Editor

If you were to pick up a tabloid newspaper today, then you could be forgiven for thinking that only Wayne Rooney and his England team-mates are capable of being unfaithful.

The fact of the matter is that people, no matter what profession they're in, commit adultery on a daily basis. Nobody condones what Rooney, John Terry or Ashley Cole have done, but their huge profiles as professional footballers mean that their actions are often blown out of proportion.

Just because a few stars have cheated on their wives and girlfriends shouldn't mean that all players automatically become terrible role models for young people.

There are plenty of players who are happily married family men, who give money to charity and appreciate how fortunate they are to play a game they love for a living.

These are the sort of individuals that youngsters should look up to, not the overpaid, ego-maniacs that have moved from the back to the front pages in recent months.

"ROLE MODELS ARE SUBJECTIVE CREATIONS," - Thomas Hyde, Football Writer

In order to establish who should and shouldn’t be classed as a role model, a definition of the term is required.

While most of us could agree on a limited set of criteria, a role model is ultimately a subjective matter.

That is why the notion of a role model will always be a divisive subject. One man's hero is another man's villain and Wayne Rooney is just the latest in a string of footballers to appear simultaneously at both ends of the spectrum.

The headline 'Rooney scores again' would mean very different things to a football mad teenager and his feminist sister.

If a clean-cut, family man who never enters into realms of controversy is your idea of a role model then perhaps you should be looking elsewhere.

But, if gifted, competitive and successful are boxes that require ticking then Mr Rooney is your man.

Role models are, and should remain, subjective creations, and therefore this is one of those rare occasions where we are all right...or wrong.


DSG

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