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November 12, 2012

HUNTER: U of L’s Siva is a role model

SELLERSBURG — I was just a kid when Charles Barkley’s commercial was out for ... for ... what was he selling again?

Anyway, in that commercial Sir Charles proclaims “I am not a role model.”  According to him, role models shouldn’t be professional athletes (couldn’t agree more), but parents and other people should be.

But he was and is a role model.

Even if I agree with in principle that role models should be looked for in the home not outside the home, I disagree that pro and college athletes aren’t role models.

They are ... they can’t avoid it and in that commercial, Barkley wasn’t being a good role model because though he proclaimed not to be, he was even in that commercial proclaiming to not be a role model.

All of the preceding rambling is for what is to follow and I think it is pretty important in today’s society that seems to continue to slide off the morality precipice.

There seems to be fewer and fewer pristine role models in the sports world. I guess pristine is too strong of a word. There are very few positive role models that are showing kids it is “cool” to be a good person and not be horribly selfish.

Maybe there are, but “SportsCenter” only shows the negatives because, well, that’s what society wants to hear and see, isn’t it? How many of us have gone to a car race secretly hoping for a wreck? Or gone to a hockey game and secretly (or not) hoped for a fight?

How many of us watched every detail that went on at Penn State? How many of us turned the channel when “just the news” or worse, something positive comes on?

There are so many athletes that are positive role models from the Jets’ Tim Tebow, to the Thunder’s Kevin Durant, to IU’s Cody Zeller, to the Colts’ Andrew Luck, and finally to U of L’s Peyton Siva.

Why aren’t those people covered more extensively?

I will give you that Tebow has been covered too much, but is that his fault?

The media needs to cover some of these other people, even people not listed in my own small list.

Siva has a remarkable story. I’ve heard and read about the story of Siva at 13 when he searched through Seattle streets to find his dad, Peyton Sr. Peyton’s dad had not been involved in his son’s life, but he felt one night in particular that his father truly needed him.

So he set out to find his dad and set him in a better direction in life. After years of gang life, drugs, violence and being in and out of jail, Peyton Sr. was ready to commit suicide when Junior found Senior.

Siva Jr. promised his father that he would do anything to keep his father safe and Siva Sr. credits his son with saving his life ... literally and spiritually.

Siva Jr. has taken that experience and other experiences growing up and using his position as one of the best point guards in the country to encourage his classmates and teammates.

I have spoken with U of L’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes chaplain Chris Morgan a couple of times about Peyton Siva and every time Morgan gives glowing accolades.

He speaks about how Siva is seen on “SportsCenter,” then at FCA and is a regular guy who is a Christ follower and willing to help out his fellow man.

It’s guys like Peyton Siva that are positive role models and sometimes we don’t know about them because ESPN doesn’t inform us on every detail of a player’s life.

He is able to use his position to influence, positively, many, many, many people. He is a guy who goes against what Barkley may have said back in the 1990’s and accepts his position to help others, to be a positive influence, to be a role model for not just children, but for 43-year-old men who write a weekly article for the News and Tribune.

Perry Hunter is a Henryville High School teacher and a former coach of the school’s boys’ basketball team. You can visit his blog at coachperryhunter.blogspot.com.

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