Maybe things like that were just not talked about openly. I can remember my mother saying that people did not speak about some things openly but rather in hushed tones. Sometimes words like divorce or cancer would not be spoken but rather spelled out quietly. Famous athletes like Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and A-Rod have all had their personal lives exposed in the media. People still respect what these famous athletes have done in their respective sports, just as was the case with Mantle.
Maybe the lesson for young people is that just because people are famous it doesn’t mean that they don’t do hurtful or thoughtless things. In this they may learn to forgive others around them, and more importantly themselves.
Perhaps athletes like Mantle were heroes; they captured the national imagination and spotlight for their athletic ability. If Mantle were here today, he might very well admonish kids not to look to him or other sports figures as heroes. Mantle, whose father was a hardworking, simple man that worked as a miner, was Mantles role model. Several times when Mantle was down and ready to quit professional baseball, he summoned his father, who inspired him to work harder and to stay in baseball. Mantle spoke with great pride and respect of his father and credited his father for much of his success.
Maybe it is alright for kids to see athletes, musicians, actors and other celebrities as heroes, but role models are more the people that are close to us. Our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles for instance.
The neighbor down the street who fought in the Viet Nam war and now delivers meals to shut in seniors. Members of the volunteer fire department and emergency squads. Those who give their time to keep community organizations, churches, 4-H, youth organizations and senior citizen organizations going.
Are they perfect? no. However, role models do the right thing often. They do these things because they care and not because it will gain them an advantage. Role models often offer their help to people that really need it and often cannot return the favor.
Often they are not rich, famous or important by contemporary measures. Role models do good things even when no one is looking. Don’t be surprised if children are looking because they are and are looking to you as an adult in their lives to be a role model.
Remember, all kids count.
Reach the writer at wildblue.net.