Footballers are role models, for young people and young men in particular. And what they do off the pitch is all part of the package.
It’s why Marcus Rashford is held up as a national treasure for his work around food poverty, as much as for his success at Old Trafford.
And it’s why Raith Rovers bosses would do well to tread carefully over a potential move to sign David Goodwillie.
The former Dundee United and Scotland forward, now playing for Clyde, has been linked with a move to the Kirkcaldy club.
But the prospect of David Goodwillie turning out at Stark’s Park has sparked anger, most notably from Raith superfan and sponsor Val McDermid.
Because for all his sporting prowess, Goodwillie is better known for his behaviour away from the football stadium.
And with two criminal convictions and a rape accusation on his record, it is not the stuff of role models.
Important issues for club to consider
It is important to note that Goodwillie is not a convicted rapist.
Two criminal convictions and a civil finding of rape. That’s pretty guilty in my book,
— Val McDermid (@valmcdermid) December 29, 2021
But when a criminal court case was dropped, his accuser pursued a civil case against him and a fellow player.
A judge found they had raped the woman and Goodwillie was ordered to pay her £100,000 compensation.
It was an unsatisfactory conclusion to a murky affair. A grey area verdict giving none of the closure that a criminal case might have provided.
Sadly there are no question marks around Goodwillie’s two convictions – for punching a man in a nightclub in 2008 and assaulting a man in Glasgow city centre in 2012.
At 32, he is arguably more mature now. He can still score goals and he has not brought shame on his current club.
But awkward questions are already being asked of Raith Rovers.
For a club which prides itself on its community support, the answers could shape how it is viewed in the future.