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On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being absolutely not; 10 being absolutely yes), are black athletes expected to be role models for the black community?

These surveys results are part of an ESPN article TheBlack Confidential.

Average answer: 8.7

Female Olympian: “10, absolutely yes. It’s an unwritten rule and part of your duty. If you make it out of misfortune and hardships, then it’s almost an obligation to be a role model to others who have similar situations.”

Male Olympian: “Nine. Coming from a black community, there aren’t a lot of people who come out of them and are able to go back and show this is what I learned, that I’ve been where you’ve been, and this is what it takes to be successful. It is a responsibility to go and show these African-American kids that their dreams can come true through a lot of work and having a team around you who believes in the same thing you want to believe in, and stay away from a lot of the negativity. Because it’s out there.”

NFL player: “Seven. You have people that look up to you. Now, do I agree with it? No. Don’t think that just because I’m on TV, I’m a role model. I’ve made so many mistakes in my life, a lot of which you don’t even know about. Trust me: I’m no role model. Don’t look up to me.”

WNBA player: “10. It’s a responsibility that comes with being a professional athlete. Kids love athletes, and it’s our job to give them someone to look up to outside the home.”

Boxer: “Eight. It’s important. But at the same time, those athletes who are role models have an obligation to use that to make sure kids know their real role models should be moms, dads, teachers, etc.”

MMA fighter: “10. The kids in those communities look up to the wrong type of people — the people who make money now and deal with the consequences later. That was my existence in the inner city. I would be working out, running on the streets, and they had cars, girls, etc. It was hard to do right when you see that other guy living the extravagant lifestyle. For those fortunate enough to have had people help them see through that and get out, it’s on us now to be part of the community, to be role models.”

Woman Olympian: “10. We do have that obligation. But it’s funny, because I bet if you asked star athletes who they most admired and who were their role models growing up, you would get some mentions of Muhammad Ali, Willie Mays, Tommie Smith, Wilma Rudolph. But you’d get more votes for moms and dads and teachers and youth coaches. I want to be a role model for my community, but I also think you got problems if young people are only looking up to athletes. That’s not how most of us have achieved what we’ve achieved.”



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