I would say they are paid too much. I realize some of them have great skill and have worked very hard. I think they need to make very good money. But the argument that their career is short is weak. Careers are short for many people and increasingly so. We have to adapt and find new careers.
Furthermore, it doesn't require 2-20 millon dollars a year for 15 years to make it through life. Most people live on much, much less during their entire life than some of these athletes make in one year of earnings.
Just like executives, I don't begrudge them the wealth that they earn, but as a whole, no business should get rich on the backs of others. In other words, if everyone could afford the games and we didn't have to also pay huge taxes to support the sport...I could live with it all. A pro athlete's only contribution to this world is the entertainment of people. If people can't routinely enjoy the sport they need to cut the pay. (as well as the pay of the execs and others in this business)
As far as the role model thing goes...I say people need to stop watching a team if they want to influence a change. I hate it that they are poor role models, but the public can demand better via their wallet. Pro sports are hardly a necessity in life and it's our own fault if we (society) allow these individuals to become role models. I know it's hard for a lot of people to believe, but in some families, pro sports and athletes aren't even a blip on the screen.