Frank Deford- who is a fantastic and venerated sportswriter- recently returned to a topic that the Ben Roethlisberger debacle provided an opening for- that athletes should not be role models.
While I respect Deford immensely, I could not disagree with him more in his conclusion.
I think it's fairly simply really. Athletes- professional athletes- are paid millions of dollars to be in the public eye, to be the face of multi-million dollar partners in a multi-million dollar enterprise. It's not about being role models to children, although there's no reason they shouldn't be that as well.
They are being paid a large sum of money for the privilege of being professional athletes. It's not unreasonable to expect them to behave.
The idea that they should be given a pass because they are 'only athletes' just doesn't hold water. Now, if they'd like to play for free, then I think we could be a little less demanding that they, say, not the same laws we are not allowed to break without consequence.