Charles Barkley is one of the most entertaining and honest people on television who often says things without any filters, which is why he is so liked by many. Known as very unapologetic and direct, Barkley was often criticized for his basketball and broadcasting career statements. During his playing days, Barkley did a famous ‘I am not a role model’ commercial with Nike in which the purpose was to tell young kids they shouldn’t look up to athletes as role models. Instead, they should look up to their parents.
Surprinslgy enough, Barkley received a lot of positive criticism for that commercial. He would often preach about the importance of kids getting proper education and aspiring to become whoever they want to be, even though he doesn’t encourage kids to become NBA players or entertainers. In an interview for Graham Bensinger, Barkley talked about a social experiment he does when visiting different schools to talk with kids and share his experience being a famous NBA player.
Barkley made an interesting analogy of how kids have different perspectives on what they want to achieve in their lives. According to Barkley, their answers are very different if he is visiting a predominantly white school compared to a predominantly black school.
I do this little science experiment when I speak at schools. Let’s say I’m at a white school. I ask how many kids want to play pro sports. Less than 10 percent raised their hand. They say they want to be doctors, lawyers, engineers. But when I speak at predominantly black schools 90 percent of kids want to play sports. There are a couple that say they want to be doctors which makes me really proud. Our kids are brainwashed if they think they can only play sports or be entertainers. You gotta a better chance to be a doctor or a lawyer than playing in the NBA. There are 400 players in the NBA. What are the chances you are going to be one of the 400 players in the world? I’m not trying to bash their dreams, I wish everybody can do it, but you also have to be realistic. You are not going to play in the NBA; who are we kidding.Charles Barkley, via Graham Bensinger
Barkley is one of the most honest people in the media, and the message he is trying to send to kids is actually a reality check a lot of them need to hear. It’s great to have dreams of becoming an NBA player, but the reality is that you have to be one in a million type of talent to make it there. On the other hand, chasing dreams to become a doctor, engineer, or a lawyer are maybe even nobler than an NBA player because you can also impact other people’s lives in a much greater way, which is something Barkley is fully aware of and is trying to incentivize among young kids.