Bolt should have known betterThursday, September 03, 2020
Former National Basketball Association (NBA) player Charles Barkley appeared in a television advert some years ago saying sportsmen should not be role models, and it ignited a firestorm at the time.
In the 1993 advert, Barkley, who is now a basketball analyst on American television, said, “I'm not a role model. Just because I dunk a basketball doesn't mean I should raise your kids.”
Then as now, the plain speaking 'round mound of rebound' knew what buttons to press to get reaction from the public, and the reactions were fast and furious.
Twenty-seven years ago, long before the age of social media, I agreed with Sir Charles, and I still hold the same view today.
Why would parents want to leave it up to people they only see on television, read about in the papers, to be the ones who their children will look to and model themselves on?
That should be the job of the parent themselves.
For example, would you want your child to be one of those people partying in a crowd of people they don't know and not wearing a facial covering during a pandemic?
Yet two Fridays ago, we saw some of the most famous sports personalities with links to Jamaica, doing just that.
Usain Bolt's girlfriend, and still nursing mother, decided to throw a surprise birthday party for him, and among those who were in attendance were Manchester City striker Raheem Sterling and Germany-based Reggae Boy Leon Bailey, as well as former Reggae Boy Ricardo Gardner.
The party reportedly breach all kinds of COVID-19 protocols including the size of the crowd, very few masks were worn and social distancing was non-existent.
Three days later, it was heard that Bolt had tested positive for COVID-19, and given the highly contagious nature of the coronavirus, those who came in contact with him might have been infected as well.
It was reckless and dangerous behaviour by people who should know better and should do better, especially Bolt who has been named a national ambassador.
Not because someone can run faster than anyone else who ever lived or they can play football better than 95 per cent of people on the globe, gives anyone a free pass to flaunt the law and act as if they are above everything and everyone else.
But, it is also dangerous to expect these same people to be the ones who we expect our children to try and emulate...off the field or on the track.
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