Sports stars not role models, study says

Sports stars not role models, study says

Published May. 30, 2011 1:00 a.m. ET

A new British study appears to have debunked the popular belief that famous soccer players, such as Wayne Rooney and David Beckham, are role models for children, The Guardian reported Tuesday.

University of Derby researcher Simon Brownhill said the actions of family friends and teachers are more likely to influence youngsters than the antics of English Premier League stars.

After surveying 178 men who worked with young children, Brownhill said kids aged eight or below were simply unable to grasp the concept of role models.

"The men surveyed in the study, who work with young children every day, supported the idea that children are more likely to be influenced by people who are their own age, who share the same experiences and who live close by, such as friends and family, rather than by actors or sports stars such as Wayne Rooney," he said.


Brownhill said men who work with children do not automatically become role models -- they have to earn such a status.

"A friend who, for example, shows no fear when going on a fairground ride is more likely to be a role model for a youngster," he said.