I recently finished reading Bobby Orr's recently released autobiography Orr: My Story. While my full review is in the works, I wanted to highlight one particular passage that jumped out.
In this passage, Orr writes:
Many years ago, a star basketball player claimed he didn't have any responsibility as a role model and that he didn't believe that those types of expectations should be placed on pro athletes. I have to respectfully disagree. To suggest there is no responsibility as a role model is dangerous ... The moment you sign on as a professional athlete, or even at the elite levels of amateur sport, you automatically become enrolled in the “Role Model Club,” whether you like it or not.
Now, Orr is clearly referencing Charles Barkley's “I am not a role model” controversial Nike commercial. Sir Charles' quote is likely the most misconstrued in modern sports. Barkley has gone on the record to say that his basketball playing does not make him idol-worthy. Participate in sports, yes, but not as a be-all end-all.
Orr like so many before him misinterprets Barkley, and in doing so exposes himself. Bobby Orr is not a good role model. I mean sure, off the ice he's done just fine — marrying young, having two sons and growing old enough to become a grandfather. But on the ice? How dare he show off a style of play that none of us, and by us I mean everyone on the planet not named Bobby Orr, can possibly attain?
Orr danced around NHL forwards and defensemen with ease. He won two Art Ross Trophies as the league's top scorer and eight straight Norris Trophies as the top defenseman. No other defenseman has come close to matching those totals.
It's often said that Orr “redefined the position.” I disagree. Such a notion suggests that Orr's style of carrying the puck and jumping into the attack became the standard. It did not. Not because people didn't try, but because no one could possibly emulate Bobby Orr. Believe me, I was reminded often during my playing career that I was not him as were a myriad of others over the 40-plus years since he made his debut.
And yet, isn't emulation an inherent quality of role modeling? Don't we seek to become those we idolize? In this sense, Orr should echo Barkley rather than dismiss him. He is not a role model, either
Your Thursday links:
NFL Team Logos Redesigned as European-Style Soccer Badges from Mashable
Arsenal fan in Uganda left homeless after losing bet on Manchester United game from Metro
The Rules of Beer Pong Apparently Do Not Apply to Michael Jordan from Extra Mustard
Introducing the Vita.mn Six-Pack: A Hall of Fame of Minnesota Brews from Vita.mn
Diaper Dandies: Golf's Young Superstars from USGolfTV
Enter the Wu-Tang, 20 Years Later: Who Ya Got? from Grantland
20 Terrifying Signs You Walked Into The Wrong Neighborhood from Distractify
Philadelphia born. Raised in God's country aka Duluth, Minnesota. Give me a frozen pond and an open pitch and I'll be happy. Follow me on twitter @noclassfriday