Archive for Thursday, May 2, 1996

TEENS LIKE JOCKS

May 2, 1996

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Not surprisingly, high-profile athletes have the stuff of which contemporary heroes are made.

Today's teen-agers want their heroes to project values and integrity, say eighth- and ninth-graders at Southwest Junior High.

The unsportsmanlike conduct exhibited by professional athletes wins no points with this group, who have little time for the likes of NBA bad boy Dennis Rodman and others who flaunt their attitudes.

``They don't care about being fined because $100,000 is pocket change,'' said Chad Fulks.

On the other hand, Michael Jordan's popularity is enduring, primarily because he's stuck to the high road.

``He's had all the stardom and stuff and had all the awards but he doesn't talk trash,'' Fulks said.

Alysa Hill, herself a gymnast, said her personal hero is Olympian Kim Zmaskal. Not only does Hill admire Zmeskal's skill, but she also likes her perseverance.

``She's already been to one Olympics and messed up and she's coming back,'' Hill said.

But sports isn't the only venue in which role models can strut their integrity. For computer whiz Tyler McPheeters, Microsoft founder Bill Gates is the ultimate hero.

``He started with nothing and now has everything,'' McPheeters said.

Southwest students see adversity, even of one's own making, as an opportunity to exhibit the kind of integrity they look up to.

Magic Johnson rates high with Joy Grisafe, who admires the way the NBA great handled himself following the disclosure that he's HIV-positive. Although she isn't impressed by the behavior that led to him contracting the virus, Grisafe says Johnson's aplomb has earned him respect.

``He's not going off and whining about it,'' she said.

To the groans of several of his classmates, David Garcia said he admires the way that rapper Tupac Shakur has bounced back from being charged with murder.

``He already has two lives,'' Garcia said. ``Look how he changed his life around. He learned from his mistakes.''

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