Give Me A Break
There has been much fuss in the papers recently about several celebrity football players who have been charged with abusive behavior toward women and children. I very rarely agree with anything written by Mary Sanchez (writer for the Kansas City Star and whose editorial appeared in today’s paper), but for once, she struck a high note with me.
She points out that the fuss being made is unilateral: oh my gosh golly can we get this guy back onto the football field in time to help our team win? The catch-and-release philosophy made popular by Michael Vick of dog-fighting infamy (no sooner did he get out of jail than he was offered a multi-million dollar contract with another pro team) seems to apply to anyone who can bring in lots and lots of fans and money and win football (or basketball, baseball, etc) games.
To quote Sanchez:
“Yes, the greatest running back of his generation is out of football for who knows how long. That’s something. But what’s unsatisfying about all this “concern” is that it’s all about how teams and the league are “handling” the problem.” Not about correcting the fundamental issue: socializing these young animals and turning them into young men with acceptable social skills.
Bingo. Sanchez goes on to suggest that the NFL (substitute organization of your choice) “create a campaign showing players acting as strong fathers to their young girls”. …”The NFL could [take the] lead … and wrap their mighty heft around … teaching men to feel that it is their place to stop men from abusing women and children”.
That’s fine as far as it goes. There’s only one problem. The individuals who play professional football tend to have the collective IQ of a grasshopper and less morals. They tend to come from what is politely referred to as less than desirable backgrounds, have been courted since their high school (and some before that) days, now have more money thrown at them than their parents saw in their lifetimes, and are encouraged to think of themselves as demigods. They also, need I remind you, tend to be testosterone-poisoned youths in their early 20s. Once they go pro, there are no restraints, no caretakers and no limits. Less brains and less self-control. And our youth look up to these barbarians and idolize them as role-models.
Yes, there are good and moral and intelligent football players. Gayle Sayers and Walter Payton come to mind. Unfortunately, nice guys don’t make the news.