That's What She Said: Whether You Like It or Not, You Are a Role Model
In professional sports, some athletes naturally become role models whether they like it or not. The same thing happens in poker. It's not what most professional poker players sign up for, but it comes with the nature of big scores and televised coverage.
Most of the poker players that are role models don't see themselves as such. They just show up to the tables, do their job, hopefully collect a paycheck, and go home.
Do you remember the Nike ad with Charles Barkley where he said, "I am not a role model." He explained that his abilities do not make him a role model and that being a role model is a job for parents.
Well, guess what? Adults don't get to choose who young people idolize. Young people get to decide who they admire all by themselves.
Many players that make their way to the big stage draw admiration from fans based on their "performance," their personality and their resilience — and some players do not.
Talented players do not win every time. And sometimes when they lose, and even when they win, they don't always put their best foot forward.
What's even more detrimental than bad behavior, though, is the lack of coverage about what goes into getting on the big stage in the first place.
And as a result, people just starting out playing poker professionally may have a warped view of what it really means to make a living at the game.
Why is all this important?
It matters because people are watching.
It matters because people are watching.
Not just new players to the game, but lawmakers, potential sponsors, and other influential people — especially in the U.S.
Pennsylvania is in the process of launching online poker, other states have introduced legislation, and practically every state is waiting for the United States Supreme Court to weigh in on sports betting. And should the decision fall in sports betting's favor, online poker has a good chance of following suit — at least in some states.
Now, more than ever it is essential for all aspects of our game to be represented. Because many good things happen both on and off the felt. While those of us entrenched in the poker community see plenty of good, others mostly see the bad — because that's what often makes headlines.
What's the solution?
Celebrate the achievements AND the hard work it took to get there. Showcase the wins AND the philanthropy that goes along with a big score. Master defeat AND put good sportsmanship on display.
Recognize that when you win something big, like the Main Event, all eyes will be on you.
There's been a lot of debate whether the Main Event champion has to accept the responsibility of being an ambassador for the game.
The truth is you don't have a choice. Not really.
The only choice you really have is whether you want to be a good role model or a bad one.
If you win the Main Event, whether or not you choose to take on the responsibility, you become a role model. The only choice you really have is whether you want to be a good role model or a bad one.
This past week there were quite a few debates about how deals at the final table should be facilitated.
And whether a deal is facilitated by the casino staff or the players, the key really is the transparency behind the deal. Anything less just comes off as shady.
If you want U.S. players back in the player pool, mainstream sponsors front and center, and the Main Event champion making the late night talk show circuit, then accept the challenge to be a positive role model. We need you now, more than ever.
And one last thing, stop picking fights, making accusations, and airing your dirty laundry on Twitter.
While I, for one, would be extremely sad to see the drama go, let's face it, Poker Twitter doesn't always showcase the best we have to offer.
I should know, I make a living out of writing about the drama created there.
In the end, the question isn't whether you will accept your fate. It's whether you will do the job right. And that's what she said.