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.

High profile athletes are often promoted as role models and portrayed as providing positive messages such as good behaviour, commitment to goals, good health attitudes, community engagement, and sport participation. Athletes that stray from these messages by poor behaviour or actions will often be scrutinised by the community and media and their status as a role model questioned. However, parents, coaches, and teachers may play an even more important role in promoting the benefits of sport participation or societal values.

The Future of Sport in Australia report (Crawford Report) (PDF  - 14.0 MB) by the Independent Sport Panel, Australian Government, (2009), made the following statements regarding role models:

Australia prides itself on our sportspeople delivering superior performances on the world stage. These athletes are continually put forward as role models for budding athletes and our nation. (p.110)

There seems to be a general view among sporting organisations and governments that role models are important in attracting young people to sport. This can be seen in the efforts of major professional sports to work with their athletes to address binge drinking, illicit drug use, and other societal issues. However, the extent that role model behaviour does or does not impact on the decisions of parents and children to participate in a given sport is not well understood (p.86).

Sport provides inspirational role models who can engender community pride and help strengthen the social fabric of divided communities, regions or countries (p.117). 

The report observed that the commonly held perception of the influence of role models needs to be unequivocally resolved. The research listed in this topic also highlights this problem and indicates that more research needs to be undertaken.

Watch these kids talk about their greatest sporting heroes. Their answers may surprise you. (Australian Sports Commission, November 2016)



More information about the impact and issues relating to drugs in sport can be found in the Clearinghouse for Sport topic Drugs in Sport

Children & Youth 

  • Parents Making Youth Sports a Positive Experience: Role Models, Daniel Francis Perkins, PennState Extension, (20 October 2017). The atmosphere set by organizations, parents, and coaches is a major factor in determining whether or not youth will have a positive experience in a sports program. This bulletin is written to assist parents in fostering a positive climate that enables children and youth involved in sports to enjoy them-selves and reach their full potential. It focuses on the benefits and risks of youth sports, discusses parents as role models, and provides practical tips for parents. 
  • Role model, hero or champion? Children's views concerning role models. Bricheno, P. & Thornton, M.E., Educational Research, (2007) Vol. 49, Issue 4, pp. 383-396. This study asked children, aged from 10 to 16 years, from four English schools in different socio-economic environments, about their role models, and about what they regarded as important attributes for a role model. The responses indicated that both girls and boys named relatives as most important role models more often than they named anyone else. In second ranking, girls named friends and boys named footballers. Overall, 31.7% of pupils chose one or both parents as their most important role model.
  • Villains, fools or heroes? Sports stars as role models for young people. Lines G, Leisure Studies, (2001), Vol. 20, Issue 4, pp. 2853-03. This article discusses ways in which sport stars are constructed as role models for young people. It cites instancing examples from the sports calendar of the ‘summer of sport’ 1996, in its discussion of the media construction of sports stars as villains, fools or heroes. It identifies the gender differentiated readings of sports stars as heroes and heroines and concludes that the ways in which media critics accord hero and role model status does not necessarily reflect the opinions of young people. 
  • Role models for young people: What makes an effective role model program (PDF  - 232 KB). MacCallum, J. Beltman, S. Australian Clearinghouse for Youth Studies, (2000). This report provides a good understanding of who are role models and features that contribute to the effectiveness of role model programs.
  • I would like to be like her/him: are athletes role-models for boys and girls? Biskup C, Pfister G, European Physical Education Review, (1999), Vol. 5, Issue 3, pp.199-218. This study examines theoretical considerations of the meaning of role-models and idols in general and for young people in particular. It found that the huge majority of idols, especially of sport heroes, are men, and it is boys who admire sport stars. In addition, a high percentage of boys named sporting heroes or 'action stars' whom they admired because of their strength, aggression and their ability to get things done. In contrast, for the girls interviewed, sport stars did not have the function of role-models. They admired the stars and starlets of the movie and music scene. 

More information on the role of parents as role models for sport and physical activity participation can be found in the Clearinghouse for Sport topic Engaging Parents in Sport

Coaching & Leadership

Coaches at all levels exert great influence on their players/athletes. Their philosophy and method of coaching can shape attitudes, motivation, and impact upon participants wellbeing. Quality coaching not only delivers optimal physiological, technical, and tactical aspects of a sport, it provides experiences that hook participants (and their family) into a sport by providing appropriate contexts, activities, encouragement, and motivation in a safe and fun environment.

  • Role models, sporting success and participation: a review of sports coaching's ancillary roles (PDF  - 6.0 MB). Lyle, John, International Journal of Coaching Science, (2013), Volume 7, Issue 2, p25. Appropriate role models such as coaches are essential elements in a high quality sporting environment: these will contribute, along with many other factors, to the perception of sport as an attractive, attainable and rewarding experience. This review suggests that coaches should emphasise qualities of determination, hard work, coping and moral behaviour. However, coaches should also take care when using other athletes as inspirational examples or models of appropriate behaviour, and bear in mind their own status as role models to younger impressionable athletes.  
  • The impact of coaching on participants (PDF  - 1.9 MB), Hopkinson M, Sports Coach UK (2014). This report presents the findings from the first year of a four-year study of the impact of coaching (and coaches) upon sports participation. The current results provide evidence to support the belief that quality coaching can help bring people into sport, enhance their enjoyment, and increase how often they play and the likelihood of them staying involved. Key results from the survey identify how important quality coaching is. The report suggests that both adults and young people will have more positive playing experiences the higher the quality of their coach. The survey aimed to gather views from both people who are coached in their chosen sport, and those who play but do not receive coaching.
  • Increasing participation in sport: The role of the coach (PDF  - 364 KB), North J, Sports Coach UK (2007). This briefing paper provides an overview of the evidence and arguments on increasing sport participation with particular regard to the role of coaches. It reviews information from a number of disciplines including the sport and exercise adherence literature and coaching science. 
More information about the role of coaches is available in the Clearinghouse for Sport Community Sport Coaching and High Performance Sport Coaching topics. 


  • Kwementyaye (Charles) Perkins: Indigenous Soccer Player and Australian Political Activist. Daryl Adair and Megan Stronach, The International Journal of the History of Sport, (2014) Vol. 31, Issue 7, pp. 778–794. This paper takes a biographical approach, pinpointing key experiences and influences in Perkins’ life and his journey in sport, education and politics. There is an emphasis on how sport shaped his thinking about society, and, particularly in his later years, his assertion that sport should not simply reflect the status quo, it should be used by those on the margins to agitate for change. 

More information about Indigenous Australians and sport can be found in the Clearinghouse for Sport topic Indigenous Australians and Sport


  • The inspirational effect of sporting achievements and potential role models in football: a gender-specific analysis. Wicker, P., Frick, B. Managing Sport & Leisure, (2016), Vol. 21, Issue 5, pp. 265-282. This study examines the trickle-down effect of potential role models and sporting achievements, respectively. Specifically, it examined the inspirational effect of same-sex and opposite-sex role models on male and female participation in German amateur football. Longitudinal data on German football club memberships and amateur teams were collected for 21 regional football associations over a 15-year-period. The results found that sporting success does not automatically lead to the development of positive role models and inspirational effects.
  • Role models in sports – Can success in professional sports increase the demand for amateur sport participation? Mutter, F., Pawlowskib, T. Sport Management Review, (2014), Vol. 17, Issue 3, pp., 324-336. This article examines whether the success of professional athletes can spill over on the demand for amateur sport participation. It reviews the empirical evidence of sporting role models and their motivational effect on sport participation. It finds the effects of professional sports on sport participation is not conclusive.
  • Changing lives? Critical evaluation of a school-based athlete role model intervention. Armour K, Duncombe R, Sport, Education & Society, (2012), Vol. 17, Issue 3, pp. 381-403. This article outlines an evaluation of the changing LIVES ‘athlete mentor’ programme in the UK. This was a school-based programme using successful sports people to deliver a series of motivational activities to young people who were identified as being disengaged or disaffected in some way.  It is argued that there should be greater conceptual clarity and a stronger evidence base supporting the design and delivery of interventions in schools that seek to use sports people as role models (or mentors) for young people.
  • The inspirational function of role models for sport participation and development (PDF  - 52 KB). De Croock S,  De Bosscher V, van Bottenburg M, European Association of Sport Management Congress 2012 Abstract Book, (2012). This research shows that only 10% of elite athletes have been inspired by other elite athletes in order to start with their current sport. Mostly they were encouraged by their parents (59%) and friends (28%) to practice their current sport.
  • Sports role models and their impact on participation in physical activity: a literature review (PDF  - 232 KB). Payne W, Reynolds M, Brown S, Flemming A, for VicHealth, (2003). This extensive review of 95 peer-reviewed articles examined the extent of evidence for the hypotheses that: (i) sports people act as role models and have a positive impact on individuals and the broader community; (ii) there is a link between sporting success and wider health improvements. The conclusions included: (i) Role model programmes should be seen as a continuum from a single exposure to a long term mentoring approach. (ii) There is ample theoretical evidence to support the idea for conducting role model programs. (iii) Role model programmes should encompass parents, teachers and other significant adults, as well as celebrities and sports people. (iv) Role models are not always positive; they can be seen to promote negative social images, beliefs and behaviours. (v) There are significant gender differences in the way athletes are viewed as role models, with males being more likely to identify with successful athletes while females tend to identify with parents. (vi) The most effective role model programmes are those that focus on developing a long term, mentor relationship, particularly for individuals from socially disadvantaged and "at risk" groups.

More information about participation can be found in the topic Sport Participation in Australia 

Persons with disability 

  • Paralympian role models: media hype, political rhetoric or the real deal? Louise McCuaig, The Conversation, (September 2016). Provides an overview of how the success of role models is often dependent on how 'relevant' they are to those observing them and how 'attainable' their achievements appear and provides anecdote to demonstrate how a Paralympic athlete has been so to a young boy.  
  • Rio Paralympics 2016: Athletes find role-model status a tricky balance. Marc Lancaster, Sporting News, (September 2016). Short article which includes several Rio Paralympic athletes discussing the balance between being a role model and just themselves. 
  • Using Role Models to Help Celebrate Paralympic Sport. Mastro J,  Ahrens C,  Statton N, The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, (2012), Volume 83, Issue 4. The article discusses ways in which role models from disability sports can be implemented into a Paralympic physical education unit. According to the article, these role models can be used in a variety of ways including as speakers, demonstrating Paralympic sports, and helping teach the sport to students.
Some disability advocates also question the way in which Paralympic athletes are portrayed in the media and particularly the focus on what they have overcome (i.e. ‘disability’), rather than who they are or what they accomplish. Several terms have been coined to describe this phenomenon including ‘super-crip’ (i.e. the ‘super’ cripple) or 'inspiration porn'. The media construction of a sporting ‘role model’ may be disingenuous and potentially harmful to both the athletes and the broader disability community and has been questioned in these articles:
  • The Paralympics and ‘Inspiration Porn’. Rupert Clark, Student Newspaper, (September 2016). Short article which provides a broad overview of some of the concerns around the media tendency to 'fetishize' Paralympic athletes. 
  • Empower, inspire, achieve: (dis)empowerment and the Paralympic Games. David Purdue & P. David Howe, Disability & Society, (December 2012). Through interviewing past and current Paralympians and other disability stakeholders the authors findings suggest Paralympians are most likely to gain empowerment from the Paralympic Games, yet their specific impairment, athletic lifestyles and failure to identify as ‘disabled’ were identified as potentially limiting the ability of the Paralympic Games to empower others.
  • 2012 Paralympic Games - Are they Superhuman? The Inclusion Club, Episode 31, (2012). This article looks at the perspective given to elite Paralympic athletes – should they be seen as ‘super hero’ (inspirational) or ‘super human’ (freaky)?
  • Cyborg and Supercrip: The Paralympics Technology and the (Dis)empowerment of Disabled Athletes. Howe, D.P, Sociology, (2011), Volume 45, Issue 5, pp. 868-882. Technology has created a divide between different impairment groups with the Paralympic movement and also amongst ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ nations. This article questions whether the advances in technology are actually empowering disabled athletes.

More information about sport participation or high performance sport for persons with disability can be found in the Clearinghouse for Sport Paralympic Games and Persons with Disability and Sport topics.   

Preventive Health

  • Sports star endorsement works a treat on junk food packagingVictorian Health Promotion Foundation, (28 May 2013). A study undertaken by the Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer (CBRC) at Cancer Council Victoria surveyed 1,300 children around 11 years of age and found that young boys were most influenced by celebrity endorsements from male athletes. The likelihood of boys choosing an unhealthy food was 65 per cent higher when it featured a sports celebrity endorsement.
  • Australian athletes' health behaviours and perceptions of role modelling and marketing of unhealthy products (PDF  - 93 KB). Grunseit A, MacNiven R, Orr R, Grassmayr M, Kelly B, Davies D, Colagiuri S, Bauman AE, Health Promotion Journal of Australia, (2012), Vol. 23, Issue 1, pp. 63-9. Most athletes surveyed supported a role for athletes in promoting physical activity and obesity prevention, and disagreed that athletes should promote unhealthy foods and alcohol (73.9%). 
  • Drunken Role Models: Rescuing Our Sporting Exemplars. Jones C, Sport, Ethics & Philosophy, (2011), Vol. 5, Issue 4. The author argues that although bad role models are grabbing the headlines in relation to problematic drinking practices, there are good role models in sport who should be lauded as exemplars of good character living a worthwhile sporting life. Such characters can show those inside and outside the practice community a more responsible and considerate approach to alcohol.
  • Alcohol consumption in sport: The influence of sporting idols, friends and normative drinking practices. O'Brien KS, Kolt GS, Webber A, Hunter JA, Drug and Alcohol Review, (2010), Volume 29, Issue 6, pp. 676-83. High profile athletes are often touted as negative role models when it comes to drinking. Contrary to expectations high-profile sportspeople were not perceived to be heavy drinkers and their perceived drinking was not predictive of others drinking. Friends' and normative drinking practices were predictors of drinking.

More information about the role of sport in improving health outcomes can be found in the Clearinghouse for Sport topic Preventive Health, Sport & Physical Activity. 

Sports Law

  • Professional Athletes and their Duty to be Role Models (PDF  - 216 KB). Lynch, S., Adair, D., Jonson, P. Achieving Ethical Excellence (research in Ethical Issues in Organizations), (2014), pp. 75 - 90.  The chapter considers understandings of sport, play and athleticism from an ethical perspective and examines their relationship to professionalism to determine the extent to which ethical imperatives can logically be upheld or undermined within the professional context. The chapter calls for recognition of the complexity of ethical decision-making in the context of professional sport and recommends that the training of professional athletes should prepare them to deal with this complexity.
  • The contractual and ethical duty for a professional athlete to be an exemplary role model: bringing the sport and sportsperson into unreasonable and unfair disrepute. Jonson, PT, Lynch, S and Adair,D., Australian and New Zealand Sports Law Journal, (2013), Volume 8, Issue 1, pp. 55-88. Elite athletes are generally assigned as being a role model by virtue of moral clauses in their employment contracts. The authors argue that athlete contracts are often vague or broad regarding role model expectations. It recommends moral clauses in contracts should be reframed  and athletes should be assisted in understanding and appreciating the nature of moral clauses. In addition, there should be public discussion on the designation and expectation of the athlete as a role model to ensure reasonableness and propriety of treatment for our athletes. The article utilises Australian cases and athlete contracts to discuss this issue.

Women & Girls 

  • Elite footballers as role models: promoting young women’s football participation. Dunn, C. Soccer & Society, (2016), Vol. 17, Issue 6, pp.843-856. Reports the experiences and thoughts of elite female footballers in Great Britain in relation to role models. In particular, it discusses their views on how to encourage young women’s football participation from elite down to grass-roots levels.
  • The Power of Role Models, Football Federation Victoria, from the Women's Football Development Guide, p.36, (May 2016). If a girl has never seen women participating in sport, it will be virtually impossible for her to imagine playing herself. What can you do to raise awareness of female role models? 
  • Role models of Australian female adolescents: A longitudinal study to inform programmes designed to increase physical activity and sport participation. Young, J.  et. al., European Physical Education Review, (2015) Vol. 21, Issue 4, pp. 451-466. This study examined role models of adolescent girls and their influence on physical activity by surveying 732 girls in Years 7 and 11 from metropolitan and non-metropolitan regions of Victoria, Australia. Survey questions included whether they had a role model and if they did, the gender, age, type and sporting background of that individual. Survey found the majority of participants nominated a family member, peer or celebrity sportsperson as their role model who was female, played sport and was less than 50 years of age. Non-metropolitan-based adolescent girls, and Year 11 adolescent girls, were more likely to select a role model who they knew played sport than metropolitan-based adolescent girls and Year 7 girls respectively.  This study highlighted that family members, peers and sports people should be included as role models in programmes designed to increase physical activity.
  • The value of female sporting role models. Meiera, M. Sport in Society, (2015), Vol. 18, Issue 8, pp.968-982. This article examines the evidence in relation to the value and functions of female sporting role models. Areas discussed included: participation, leadership, advocacy, gender stereotypes, inspiration, ethics, safeguarding and prevention, media and business and giving back to sport. The author argues that rather than just increasing female SRMs in numbers, attention should be dedicated to the selection variety that encompasses the functions of role models.
  • Why do girls need athletic role models? SIRC Blog, (10 June 2015). When role models are mentioned in sport, the first thing that comes to mind are high profile celebrities. While positive role models can be found in amateur and professional sports, it's the people they see every day that make the biggest difference.
  • The Importance of role models in making adolescent girls more active: A review of literature. Kirby J, Child and Adolescent Health Research Unit, (2009), University of Edinburgh. A review of the literature was carried out in order to help inform the sport and recreation sectors of the importance of role models in getting adolescent girls to be more active. A presentation was given to the Teenactive Research Group, October 2009, download presentation (PPT  - 1.1 MB).
  • Esther Phiri and the Moutawakel effect in Zambia: an analysis of the use of female role models in sport-for-development. Marianne Meier & Martha Saavedra, Sport in Society, (2009), Vol. 12, Issue 9, pp. 1158-1176. In the field of sport and development, ‘role models’ have been invoked as an important element to increase participation. Based on a case study of Zambian women's sports and the boxer, Esther Phiri, this essay examines the discourse around the use of ‘role models’ and begins to elaborate a theory around their use specifically in the experience of sport-in-development projects and programs which have gender-specific outcomes.
  • ‘David or Mia? The influence of gender on adolescent girls' choice of sport role models’ (PDF  - 95 KB). Adriaanse, J, Crosswhite, J, Women's Studies International Forum, (2008), Vol. 31, Issue 5, pp. 383-389. This study of Australian adolescent girls (n=357) found girls overwhelmingly choose a female role model. However, when questioned about role models from the sports environment, the percentage of female role models decreased.
  • Profiling sport role models to enhance initiatives for adolescent girls in physical education and sport, Vescio J, Wilde K, and Crosswhite J, European Physical Education Review, (June 2005), Vol. 11, pp. 153-170. This study involved the investigation of sport role models for adolescent girls in Australia. Results showed that a relatively small percentage of girls (8.4 percent) perceived a sports person to be their role model, with a large percentage of girls nominating a role model from the family (mother), peer or entertainment domains. The majority of girls with a sport role model described the model as female, under 40 years of age with a similar sporting background to themselves who display essential masculine and feminine qualities.
  • The Relevance of sporting role models in the lives of adolescent girls (PDF  - 88 KB). Vescio J, Crosswhite J, Wilde K, Paper submitted to the ACHPER Healthy Lifestyles Journal, (Revised November 2003). This paper challenges the idea that elite athletes are relevant role models for all teenage girls. Results showed that a relatively small percentage of girls perceived a sports person to be their role model, with a large percentage of girls nominating a family member or friend as their role model.
More information about women's sport can be found in the Clearinghouse for Sport topic Women's Sport

High profile athletes are used as role models by several Australian organisations and programs to promote positive health and lifestyle messages. Most Australian professional sports clubs now require their athletes to attend sports camps, schools, and hospitals to engage with the community. Programs that utilise athletes include: 


  • iCare Paralympian Speakers Program. A partnership between the NSW Government and Paralympics Australia where Paralympians mentor young people seriously injured at work or on the road.
  • Paralympic Speakers Program. Paralympics Australia run the Paralympic Speakers Program where athletes with disabilities can tell their stories to corporate and school groups.

High performance athletes

  • AIS Personal ExcellencemyAISplaybook allows high performance athletes to hear from high-profile role models. 


  • Role Models and Leaders Australia (RMLA). Provides leadership, sports and education programs to assist Australian youth, particularly Indigenous youth, who suffer from poverty, sickness, misfortune, or a disconnectedness from their community.
  • Athletes as Role Models (ARMtour). Since 1997 ARMtour uses athletes as role models to deliver sport and recreation activities that encourage educational engagement to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students living in remote Northern Territory communities.
  • David Wirrpanda Foundation. Founded in 2005, the David Wirrpanda Foundation exists to improve the life outcomes of Indigenous children by promoting strong role models and healthy life choices.
  • Red Dust. Is a a health promotion organisation that delivers innovative health promotion programs in partnership with remote communities. The Red Dust Role Models come from a variety of disciplines, including sport, art and music, but are also recognised for their mentoring and teaching capabilities.

Mental Health

  • Lifeline Community Custodians, AIS/Lifeline, (accessed 12 April 2019). The AIS has partnered with Lifeline to deliver the Lifeline Community Custodian program to help raise awareness of the mental health issues that contribute to this unacceptably high rate of suicide. Twenty-one elite athletes from a range of National Sporting Organisations and the National Institute Network have been selected as Lifeline Community Custodians. They will help draw the spotlight on this important issue, reduce the stigma around mental illness and encourage people to reach out and get help when they need it. 


  • Bachar Houli Academy. Program designed to provide opportunities and a pathway for young Muslim men aspiring to play AFL football.
  • Racism: It Stops with Me. This Australian Human Rights Commission and Play by the Rules initiative is a national campaign to raise awareness of racism in society and has used high profile sportsmen and women such as Adam Goodes to promote key messages through multiple media channels.
  • Roosters Against Racism. Raises awareness of the importance of mutual respect and fair treatment of all people regardless of their cultural, racial or religious backgrounds. It will also promote the benefits of cultural diversity and social cohesion. The program is supported by the Australian Human Rights Commission, Play By The Rules, Community Migrant Resource Centre and Left-field Business Solutions. It involves a number of high profile players visiting local schools.


  • Heroes. An Australian Sports Commission (ASC) video to highlight that when children are asked who their sporting heroes are - it is generally their parents. 
  • Stick with It. An ASC video campaign where two of Australia’s leading sporting captains, netball’s Laura Geitz and rugby union’s Stephen Moore, urge teenagers to keep playing sport rather than dropout.

Sexuality & Gender Ethics

  • You Can Play (national campaign). Play by the Rules developed a national campaign to tackle the issue of homophobia in sport that features a number of high profile Australian athletes including Harry Kewell (football), Allesandro Del Piero (football), Libby Trickett (swimming), Mitchell Johnson (cricket), Ryan Harris (cricket), Paul Gallen (rugby league), Nate Myles (rugby league), Lauren Jackson (basketball), Kimberlee Green (netball), Sam Mitchell (AFL), David Pocock (rugby union) and Nathan Jones (AFL).


Most high profile Australian athletes accept that they are perceived as role models.  

Australia Day Awards 

Several prominent Australian athletes have been recognised in the Australia Day Awards for their sporting achievements and community contribution and are often portrayed as positive role models in the media. 

Female Australia Day Award winners:Female Young Australian of the Year Award winners:
Male Australia Day Award winners:
Male Young Australian of the Year Award winners 

Sports Australia Hall of Fame (SAHoF)

Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1998 introduced 'The Don' Award', named after Sir Donald Bradman, to honour a current Australian athlete who, by their achievements and example over the previous 12 months, are considered to have had the capacity to most inspire the nation. Athletes that have won this award include: Alisa Camplin, Cadel Evans, Steve Hooker, Matthew Mitcham, Sally Pearson, Adam Scott, Jason Day and Petria Thomas.

Many current and former high profiles athletes are involved in community projects and foundations. Examples include:

List of charities established by Australian athletes (Wikipedia)

Where possible, direct links to full-text and online resources are provided. However, where links are not available, you may be able to access documents directly by searching our licenced full-text databases (note: user access restrictions apply). Alternatively, you can ask your institutional, university, or local library for assistance—or purchase documents directly from the publisher. You may also find the information you’re seeking by searching Google Scholar.



  • Culture, Media and Sport - Seventh Report. Chapter 4: Role Models in Sport, UK House of Commons, (12 July 2004). This report details submissions and evidence received from various sports organisations about the role of sport in creating/promoting role models in various areas including: influence of sporting heroes; appropriate demands on athletes (to be role models/heroes); promoting sport and physical activity; promoting wider objectives; education; sport and social exclusion; and setting examples. It concludes that sporting role models, and sport more generally, can promote highly laudable examples and values in terms of elite sporting achievement, the general benefits of sporting participation and other personal development goals. The Government has allocated expenditure to initiatives exploiting these links and many sports—football in particular—have given evidence of significant investments, and the meeting of considerable demands, from resources of their own. We believe that recently-retired sportsmen and -women—with good track records and high public profiles—represent a pool of talent with particular potential for meeting the demands of new 'role-modelling' initiatives.



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