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The social responsibility of the Olympic athlete as a youth role model
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Niki Koutrou, PhD Candidate at Loughborough University, reflects on the role of Olympic athletes as youth role models and on the role Olympic education has to play.

by Niki Koutrou

Role Models

Role models are people who act as an example for others and their behaviour is often emulated. But what influences people and especially youth to adopt role models? Social learning is an interactive and evolving process, achieved by observing certain behaviours and actions. Role models often acquire distinctive physical mental or personality attributes. 

Elite athletes as role models
Elite athletes are often considered as idols for the youngsters as they combine a highly dynamic and physically attractive personality. Moroever, sports epitomise high ideals and emotions that can’t be found elsewhere. However, athletes need to be aware of ways to act as ambassadors of promoting sport ideals. That means undergoing proper training on Olympic education.

The role of Olympic education
Olympic Education is a learning process for the teaching of Olympism, whereas participants are encouraged to learn, comprehend, experience and propagate the Olympic principles. It rests on a deep knowledge of the educational and cultural principles of Olympism and supports the notion that man is united.

For that reason, it harmoniously embraces the spiritual and psycho-somatic activities of the individual. Moreover, it cultivates the spirit of sportsmanship and uses the Olympic athlete as a life model for young people to follow. Both children as well as elite athletes need to be educated on Olympic values so that athletes understand their social responsibility towards cultivating positive attitudes.


Niki Koutrou is a PhD Candidate is the Institute of Sport and Leisure Policy in Loughborough University, UK


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