Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Say It Isn’t So, Diana!

Okay, I saw on other WNBA websites that Phoenix forward Diana Taurasi was pulled over for a DUI on July 2nd. I was shocked. I love Taurasi and always have thought of her as a role model.

And low and behold, my paper, the San Francisco Chronicle just put it in their paper today! On the back page, one inch of column, as usual, but 13 days late? Come on, SF!

More reports have surfaced, just not on the San Francisco Chronicle, that she was out with friends and ex-teammates (Sue Bird, Swin Cash), and that they were driving behind her. Boy, didn’t any of them have the sense to say, “D, give me your keys and let's call a taxi”?

So that got me thinking, always a dangerous thing. Should women athletes be role models? (This question is often asked of men, and Charles Barkley). Are women athletes held to a higher standard as role models (the good girl syndrome) than male athletes (boys will be boys)? Many male athletes have had DUIs, so what is the big deal?

I asked R what she thought of these questions. She said, “Drinking and partying with your friends is acceptable, and driving drunk is unacceptable, no matter who you are.” And on whether women athletes should be role models? She answered, “It might not be their choice to be a role model, but they are in the media, more than, say most business people and laypersons. Being in the media attracts fans, and sports figures, because they usually have to be in shape and healthy to play, are thought of as positive role models in their communities. So like it or not, they are role models.” Good answers.

One of the great things about joining Women Talk Sports is that I can ask other women bloggers about women athletes as role models, and they are so much smarter and articulate them me, too, and they nary make a typo.

Jane Schonberger of Pretty Tough Sports attended a panel called, The Athlete as Role Model awhile back and wrote about it. It is more scholarly than my ramblings. She wrote about how one question was answered:
“Why are athletes perceived as role models? The answers varied but several common points were raised. Athletes are held to different (albeit unrealistic) standards than actors and entertainers. While money and the media creates exposure for the athletes, they are often put on a pedestal without wanting the position.”

Ann Gaffigan, co-founder of Women Talk Sports writes:
“YES I think athletes, male and female, should strive to be good role models. I think sports serve that exact purpose to society: they inspire us by making us believe even the wildest dreams can come true. BUT, we should not expect athletes to be roles models in the sense that they are perfect beings because they are not and cannot be.”

Jayda Evans, who writes Women’s Hoops Blog for the Seattle Times, had several posts and related articles on the incident and aftermath. She reported that Diana met with the media and had the good sense to “be embarrassed”.

Well, that’s a start. Admitting her mistake and learning from it is always a stand-up kinda thing. She almost sounds like a role model.

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