Wai Sallas explains that there are still good role models in sports . . .We’re just looking in the wrong places.
My first role models, like millions of children who grew up in the 80s, were Magic and Michael. Their magnetism drew me in like a moth to a flame. They could do no wrong, and I idolized them well into my teens.
As I got older, I realized the people I looked up to as a child weren’t the best examples. Charles Barkley was right, these were not role models.
Today as a husband and father, I look at Magic and Jordan, and I see two men whose penchant for womanizing led to a life-threatening virus for Magic and divorce for Jordan.
Now, I make it a point to be the role model for my son I so desperately searched for all those years ago. It started when my wife first told me she was pregnant. We immediately hatched a plan to make our lives better for our family. We did our research and found a study conducted by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development that emphasized the important role of fathers in their children’s life:
“The influence of father love on children’s development is as great as the influence of a mother’s love. Fatherly love helps children develop a sense of their place in the world, which helps their social, emotional and cognitive development and functioning. Moreover, children who receive more love from their fathers are less likely to struggle with behavioral or substance abuse problems.”
We no longer live in an era where mom stays home and dad works. We would both need to work, we both would need to parent. To an extent, our roles interchangeable.
As I challenge to find balance between running a successful business and being a present father and husband, my wife eclipses me professionally. She is the breadwinner. We are true partners in every sense, but we still struggle with the gender specified roles we grew up with while also living in a modern day world where those lines have been blurred beyond recognition.
We know it’s possible to have both.
I look to John Wooden, the former head basketball coach for UCLA:
“Earlier in life, I put family in front of faith. I’ve fixed that. But I always tried to keep work fourth on the list. I was proud when [my wife] Nellie told an interviewer, ‘I never could tell whether John had a good practice or a bad practice, because he never brought it home.'”
While my wife and I are very good at keeping work at work and keeping our hours reasonable, sometimes work finds its way in.
At 12 weeks postpartum, our new little family bubble was popped and my wife was back at work and traveling cross country within the next week. I know she struggles with the dichotomy of being a mother and a professional. It’s unfair, even cruel at times. How do we both live up to professional expectations and still be hands-on parents?
It’s these traditional ideals conflicting with present-day thinking that has me glad people like Bruce Arians exist.
Arians is the head coach of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals. His team is 7-1, the best record in the league. The life of an NFL coach is high pressure, high stress. It’s a position that eats qualified candidates up and spits them back out. Over the last two seasons, two high profile coaches have had to take a leave of absence due to the rigors of their jobs. One hundred-hour work weeks aren’t uncommon.
In an article for azcentral.com, Arians (unlike his counterparts) eschewed the idea that male professionals must spend their entire waking moments away from family in order to be successful:
“We’re not grinders,” Arians said. “We’re not going to be here until midnight on Tuesday.“
Author Dan Bickley continues, “Arians is not one to burn the midnight oil. He keeps a weekly date night with his wife. Yet somehow, he and his staff are always prepared and never out-schemed. That’s a tribute to their knowledge, their efficiency and the balance they strike in their lives.”
My wife and I are trying to find that balance. The balance of our old life mixed with the new. The old stereotypes of father and mother and the new realization of equal parenting partners. Sometimes we struggle with remembering our own needs as a couple while traveling through this new path as parents. I know if an NFL coach can find a way to be successful both at work and at home, we can too.
So while Barkley was right in saying athletes aren’t role models, maybe these coaches are.
(Photo Credit: Associated Press/Matt York)
Love this? We’ll send you more by email. Receive our daily or weekly email. Sign up here.