Noun, but sometimes deployed as an emotive adjective.
Def; Highly paid public figure, who's poster may be stuck on your 12 year old's wall and as a result is forced to behave accordingly.
E.G: Ched Evans is a role model to kids therefore....
Looks ridiculous on paper right? But somehow saying it out loud appears to mitigate that. Oddly, in the wake of 'the 'Ched Evans rehab vs remorse debate', the age-old argument of 'footballers being role models' returned. But if the saga was evidence of anything it was exactly why the R word should be nowhere near football.
Football has no moral compass. Leadership stems from the top, and at it's head are the sport's custodians, FIFA. In Blatter and co you have a gang, who constantly find themselves embroiled in allegations of corruption. On the field, the culture of the sport demands that referees are given endless stick and biting your opponent for a second time earns you a £70 million transfer. Players lie. They dive on the pitch and into the beds of their brother's wives. They drink and drive. Go at 50mph in 30 zones. They're charged with affray after nightclub scraps, and for racism as TV cameras and lip reading specialist make out their slurs.
They're fortunate to possess a talent, which earns them bags of money. Many are charitable, and the best of pros work extremely hard at their profession, but they're ordinary men, no different from you and I. If anything, the godlike status we grant them is what sends the 'wrong message to children'. But even then I'm loathed to talking about kids as if they're beings with little intelligence, or as if they don't grow up and understand the world better. Once, I would have had Haribos for breakfast if I were allowed, not so much now.
I first had my heartbroken when Thierry Henry left me for Barcelona. I loved that man, and I thought he loved me back, but he didn't, he didn't even know me and equally I didn't know him. I loved his goals and the joy I felt when he scored but that's as far as it went. Again I learnt that lesson, as do all children at some point.
If footballers are role models because boys enjoy watching them then so are pornstars. Now who's going to make that case?