Role Models and Sport

Role Models and Sport         
Prepared by  Prepared by: Greg Blood, Emeritus Researcher, Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) 
evaluated by  Evaluation by: Dr Andrew Bennie, Director Academic Program, Health & Physical Education, Western Sydney University (January 2018); Dr Daryl Adair, Associate Professor of Sport Management, University of Technology Sydney (March 2016)
Reviewed by  Reviewed by network: Australian Sport Information Network (AUSPIN)
Last updated  Last updated:  13 March 2018, by Christine May, Senior Research Consultant, Sport Australia. 
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A role model is a person whose behaviour, example, or success is or can be emulated by others, especially by younger people. (

Adam Goodes, 2014 Australian of the Year, made the following comments regarding role models:

We all need people to look up to. When you know yours, break down what it is you most admire about them. What I love about [former teammate] Michael O'Loughlin is how much he adores his family and the effort he puts in to make sure they have a better life. I have the utmost respect for [current Swans co-captain] Jarrad McVeigh for how hard working and determined he is to be the best he can be, not letting anything get him down. And my mum - I love how caring she is. Everyone who meets her wants to be her friend. 11 ways to become a better man, according to Adam, (1 February 2014).

Key Messages 


High profile athletes are often portrayed as role models, particularly to children and young people. Both positive and negative behaviour by high profile athletes are often under scrutiny


The evidence of the impact of athletes as role models on sport participation and behaviours is inconclusive.


Parents/family, coaches, sports officials, administrators, and teachers are influential role models for sport participation and healthy behaviours.

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