Role model search must start at home

The wisdom of hoisting athletes onto pedestals reserved for role models has never been shakier. On any given day, sports news reports are as likely as not to feature professional athletes in some sort of trouble, criminal or otherwise.

Domestic assault, drunken driving and failed drug testing are the staples of this evolving corner of the sports pages.

Luckily, the likes of Aaron Hernandez are rare. Consider the incidence of this convicted murderer as a sports pariah on steroids.

Maybe it is the increasingly inability to confidently hold the pros up as paragons of goodness that has increased the yearning for high school athletes to serve as scholastic and athletic examples for their younger brothers and sisters.

And, to be sure, there are plenty of student-athletes in our high schools who are more than worthy to serve as such, even if it is not a role they might seek.

Unfortunately, there are new items that will chip away at that notion. Consider the action last month that led to the suspensions of up to 10 Nashua High School South athletes who allegedly attended a house party at which alcohol was made available to them.

Nearly all high schools now require that student-athletes sign contracts pledging uphold standards of conduct.

Naturally, those standards include abstaining from the use of any drug, including alcohol. Of course, it is also illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to possess alcoholic beverages.

The students said to have been at the house party had the temerity to post images and videos on various social media websites, betraying a stunning lack of judgment.

But the girls who were suspended (and have appealed the disciplinary action) did not represent the worst judgment in this mess. That infamy is reserved for the adult who allegedly not only served as host of the affair but, presumably, provided the alcohol.

High school-aged children do not magically reach adult standards of maturity without at least the encouragement of the adults around them, with their parents at the top of that list. It is astounding to think that a parent would host a drinking party for high school athletes, seemingly without the slightest concern of its consequences.

It is sheer luck that those consequences did not go deeper than athletic suspensions.

Let this serve as a reminder that the search for role models should always begin at home.