The "sportspeople as role models" argument is one that has long grated with me.
And it's not just because the sporting prowess of wet cement together with a lack of motivation and interest led to me putting my sporting career on hold until the next life. Sure, I would have loved to have had a career at centre half-forward for the Swans, but for my innate uncoordination and getting into things like music and finance instead.
The worst part of the argument for me is that the whole discussion about this appears to have been engineered for the benefit of entities other than concerned parents, sportspeople themselves, sporting administrators and politicians.
Step forward sporting goods companies.
The inherent phoniness of the argument is made manifest when one considers that there are kids out there who do not have their favourite sportsman or woman on the wall. Apart from a brief period in the mid-eighties when I read surfing magazines, I was one of those kids.
I don't actually remember the surfers who graced my walls. Barton Lynch might have been one. I would be surprised if the the great Mark "Occy" Occhilupo and Tom Carroll weren't others.
I might have had the odd poster of the Australian Cricket Team up on my wall when I was even younger.
But my fling with professional sportsmen on my wall was a brief one.
After this, I stopped with the sportsmen outright, and started putting rock and rollers on my wall. I would have been about 12 or 13 years old.
Favourites that I recall were INXS and U2 in the early days, Hunters & Collectors and Midnight Oil a little later on, and then finally outfits like The Stems, the Hoodoo Gurus, the Violent Femmes and The Stone Roses through my final years of high school.
I always wanted an Iron Maiden poster - their album cover artwork was considered a holy grail throughout my dorm at school. I particularly loved the cover of their Powerslave album, but I digress.
If we're to accept that sporting heroes are role models, the best place to start appears to be what or who kids put on their walls. Around the dorm where I lived in my final years of high school, there were quite a few footballers - maybe on a third of the walls. I remember one guy had a prized poster of Robert DiPierdomenico and another of Leigh Matthews.
One guy had his own shrine to Stephen Silvagni with a few of Stephen Kernahan as well.
How then did my posters of rock and rollers fit in? Well, I don't for one second accept that I thought of them as role models and a quick search of the news at Google doesn't even mention musicians at all.
But the thought has crossed my mind about half a dozen times that posters for sportspeople are suspiciously plugged as appropriate for kids all too frequently, and a quick look at the ones in the stores that stock posters seems to have the answer:
Much like the posters of surfers that I put up in my early high school years, it appears to be impossible to get a poster of a sportsperson that doesn't contain a prominent logo of a sporting goods company in the corner.
Nike is the worst offender. In the early nineties, the promoted the bejesus out of Michael Jordan to the point that many Australian kids wore Nike sporting apparel with his image on them. But if you asked any Australian kids about Jordan specifically, or basketball generally, you would draw a blank. Basketball is simply a fringe game outside of North America, and Jordan happened to be photogenic.
It wasn't long before Nike discovered that the best way to sell to the rest of the world was to go for local sporting celebrities.
The face of Nike in Australia was Shane Warne - quite possibly the greatest spin bowler that world cricket has ever seen, or at least until Muttiah Muralitharan came along. Nike didn't stop there.
They hit serious paydirt when they sponsored Ronaldo and the rest of the Brazilian national football (soccer) team in a year when Brazil were unstoppable in winning a fourth world cup and they then managed to re-create this in 2002 when Brazil did it again.
And the posters of surfers always had their sponsors figuring promptly as well. Show me a poster of a surfer without a Billabong or Rip Curl logo in the corner and I'll show you a magazine logo instead.
But the whole argument that sportspeople are role models appears to be somewhat contrived, particularly when no one takes the notion seriously that musicians gracing other kids walls might also be.
I put it to you that sporting goods manufacturers drive the debate around this. If not then why don't musicians ever get a look in?
For the record, my role model, if I had one when I was growing up, was my dad. I don't think I ever had a poster of him on the wall. And I don't think that I'm different to many others.