Worst Role Models in Sports


Alex Rodriguez has said and done some dumb things.  Some spectacularly dumb things.

Credit, @AsburyParkPress on Twitter
Credit, @AsburyParkPress on Twitter

Steroid abuse.  Cheating on his wife with a Canadian stripper.  Shirtless sunbathing in Central Park and other spotlight seeking rather than avoiding behavior.  Hitting on fans in the midst of a playoff game.  An overall stunning lack of awareness.  The list goes on.

His entire career, really, has been a study in the various types of public relations shit in which an athlete can step.

And yet, after 19 years of almost unprecedented stupidity, the man known as A-Rod may well have only just unleashed the most confounding statement/action of his career – saying to Sports Illustrated that he wants “to be a role model,” to “continue to be a role model…”

Alex Rodriguez, a role model?  For whom?  Johnny Lawrence?  Sid from Toy Story?  The kid from The Exorcist mid-line about what our mothers do in hell?  In what sad, twisted world is Alex Rodriguez the idealized version of what normal children should strive to be?  In fact, given the lying and the cheating and the spectacular levels of douchebaggery, isn’t he the opposite of what we want America’s youth to become?  Isn’t he one of the sports world’s worst possible role models?

He has to be top ten, right?  At least of those who haven’t already murdered, raped, assaulted, or otherwise abused their fellow man.  I don’t know where he falls in the hierarchy, but he deserves a spot somewhere with these nine, yes?

  • Barry Bonds, MLB – He and A-Rod are virtually the same, but at least A-Rod had the decency to try and seem likable.  And, as of yet, A-Rod hasn’t let any of his friends go to jail while he lives large. He may have thrown his cousin under the bus, but his cousin isn’t under lock and key somewhere. Bonds, all around jerk.
  • Lance Armstrong, Cycling – The steroid use is one thing.  Taking so many that you make Bonds and Rodriguez look like kids who just tried the junk once, another.  But actively trying to destroy the lives of people who dare to tell the truth?  That’s a level of vicious self-preservation at the expense of honest, hardworking people for which we just can’t stand.  What are we, Wall Street?
  • Michael Vick, NFL – After specifically mentioning “fellow man” above,  I kind of had to throw Vick in here to make it clear that I’m not down with dog murder.  I’m not.  Screw this guy.
  • John Rocker, MLB – Racism + homophobia = A-hole. 
  • John Terry, Soccer – Racism + homophobia + sleeping with your teammates’ wives + cheap-shotting unsuspecting players = Bigger A-hole.
  • Plaxico Burress, NFL – If we should want one thing for our kids, let it be that they never try to stash their gun in the waistband of the their sweatpants.
  • Gilbert Arenas, NBA – Let them also understand that the office is another terrible place for a gun.  And that it is under only very few circumstances that said gun should end up pointed at a co-worker.  All of those scenarios, by the way, involve the unlikely uncovering a massive terror plot.  None involve a poker game.
  • Luis Suarez, Soccer – You can’t bite people, dude.  And you certainly can’t do it twice.
  • Antoine Walker, NBA – And finally, in this world fiscal uncertainty, we cannot allow “guy who pissed away the millions of dollars he earned in the NBA” to hold sway over our children.  401K’s for all.

Honorable Mentions, likely just below A-Rod:

  • Sam Hurd, NFL – Scarface was a movie, not a goal.
  • John Daly, Golf – Clean yourself up, bro.
  • Tonya Harding, Ice Skating – Children need to learn from someone with a strong work-ethic, not someone who passes the buck when it gets down to the nitty-gritty.
  • Tom Brady, NFL – Pick your friends wisely, kids.  Know better than to get in bed with “Ugg.”

Author: Joseph White

Joe Bianchino is a writer, producer, and radio host located in upstate New York. He is a life-long New York sport fan, Chelsea supporter, and Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon enthusiast. Follow him on Twitter @JoeBNTS. Email him at