I love Twitter because it gives people the opportunity to immediately react without thinking to someone else immediately reacting without thinking.
On Sunday the Seattle Seahawks defeated the San Francisco 49ers to earn a trip to the Super Bowl. It was a tightly contested game, which came down to Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman defending a pass intended for 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree.
Mere minutes after sending his team to the Super Bowl, Sherman gave a live interview that almost caused Twitter to melt like the Nazis in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Sherman basically gave a WWE-style interview in which he claimed to be the best cornerback in the league, despite what Crabtree had told the media earlier in the year.
I saw the interview live, albeit without sound. Sherman looked fired up but not violent or threatening. After watching the interview later, I still wasn’t bothered by the interview. I saw it as a competitor reacting in the moment, a moment in which he just signed his team’s ticket to the Super Bowl.
Some people were outraged by the interview and took to Twitter. People were shocked and appalled. Some people even resorted to name calling and derogatory terms.
I was most intrigued by a comment I saw about Sherman’s status as a role model. A tweet I saw expressed disappointment at Sherman’s behavior. This tweeter thought that the cornerback had set a bad example for the tweeter’s children.
Whether they like it or not, those in the public eye are role models. They may not see themselves as role models but people will emulate their behavior, good or bad. The onus for how our children behave, though, isn’t on those in the public eye. That responsibility falls to parents and anyone with influence over young people.
If I had kids I wouldn’t rely on Richard Sherman to teach them about competition and humility. Even though he’s in the public eye and people may be tempted to model his behavior, the responsibility would still be mine for my children.
I take the same approach with our students.
I don’t rely on Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus to teach them lessons about sex. Katy and Miley may not see themselves as role models, but people want to emulate their lifestyles. Instead of allowing our students to follow their example, we try to influence them to look to Christ and model his behavior.
Someone may be a role model solely because they are in the public eye. But when it comes to influencing young people, we need to make sure our voice is louder than any on the radio or in a postgame interview.
What responsibility, if any, do you think those in the public eye have to be good role models?