In 1993, NBA star Charles Barkley created a stir when he asked parents to not consider him a role model. "A million guys can dunk a basketball in jail; should they be role models?" he asked.

Later, his Nike commercial became one of the most controversial commercials in advertisement history. It had nothing to do with sex, drugs or violence, yet it became a fixture in our cultural lingo.

"I'm not a role model," Barkley said in the advertisement. "Just because I dunk a basketball doesn't mean I should raise your kids."

The response was swift and, at times, furious. It made Barkley and the subject of role models a hot button topic for politicians as people began looking for others to blame for society's degradation. And Barkley' scomments gave them a larger than life target at which to point their wrath.

Now, 16 years later, those same critics have an even bigger target to go after in Tiger Woods. The greatest golfer ever was put on a pedestal by fans and media around the world. But it was only a matter of time before he would do something that would cause the same pedestal to tumble.

Woods was in a single-car wreck Thanksgiving weekend. He struck a fire hydrant and a tree after pulling out of his driveway. Rumors quickly started to seep out that the accident was caused, in part, when Woods' wife, Elin Nordegren, found out about her husband's alleged infidelity.

"I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart," Tiger said Wednesday. "I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves. I am not without faults and I am far short of perfect. I am dealing with my behavior and personal failings behind closed doors with my family. Those feelings should be shared by us alone."

It's not an exaggeration to say Woods is one of the most famous people in the world. His admitted "transgressions" became front page news and the lead on all news and sports channels. That was to be expected.

But the most astonishing part of the entire spectacle to me, are the fans, media and everyday people who now question whether Tiger should still be considered a role model. Many are so outraged at what he has done in his personal life they feel his sponsors should cancel endorsement deals.

It's hypocrisy at its worst. If they all had listened to Barkley almost two decades ago, they would have prepared for this moment. He tried to warn parents back then that athletes, entertainers, politicians, artists, etc. are all just regular people. They have the same weaknesses, demons and lack of moral strength as the average man or woman working 9 to 5. The only differences are they get paid a lot more money, are seen on television and get free meals and shoes wherever they go.

When the news about Tiger's possible infidelities came out, I truly was not shocked. Not because I always thought Tiger looked like a man who liked to step out on his wife. It's because he is human and people do stupid things. And I have seen it too many times to ever be shocked again. That doesn't make him right for doing it. Just human.

I understand that there are parents out there who need all the help they can get to keep their kids on the straight and narrow. With drugs, gangs and other ills of society hitting children from everywhere, the image of Tiger on the front page of every gossip magazine does not help the situation.

But until parents realize that expecting anyone to be a better role model than they can be is a sure fire way to be let your kids down, things like this will continue to happen.

I am not saying you shouldn't highlight athletes or entertainers to kids for their great achievements. That is how goals are set. Yet, be strong enough to point out to them that everybody has faults and no one is perfect.

In fact, I feel Tiger is a greater role model today than he was last month. For his entire career, we have tried to make him out to be the perfect athlete and in some cases, the perfect man. Now that he has been shown to share the same weaknesses as others, yet still lay claim to being one of the greatest athletes ever, it gives kids hope they can rebound from their own mistakes.

Those are the type of role models we all can use.

This Week's Circulars