Friday, 14 October 2005
|1106 - Football? Thugball.|
The latest bit of controversial behavior by professional football players, the lake cruise for the Minnesota Vikings that turned into a sex party, has backfired on the team: it's pretty much scuttled plans for a new stadium.
Over the past several years, pro football players have been embroiled in one controversy after another over criminal behavior, from drunken driving to theft to rape to firearms violations. There was once a joke about why a coach for the Dallas Cowboys carried a pistol to an airport security checkpoint: Because he wanted to join his players in prison.
It's time for the owners to put their collective foot down. Too often, players who engage in this kind of activity are shielded by the NFL and its owners, in the name of winning. Some teams are more notorious than others; the Oakland Raiders, for example, have a particularly bad reputation in this regard.
I don't believe much in the idea that players should act as role models, but the simple fact is that they will be, to a large segment of the population. The owners should recognize that, as well as the simple fact that having a large part of the team implicated in things like the sex party is harming their public perception, and unceremoniously throw criminals out of the game. No, I'm not saying we should ignore the principle of "innocent until proven guilty", by any means. However, throwing criminals out of the league would send an unmistakable message that the game cannot tolerate that kind of thing any longer.
current mood: disappointed
current music: The Moody Blues - Question
I've generally had an attitude that anyone who takes a football player as a role model deserves all that they get.
I could be waaay off base here, but I get the feeling that the American glorification of pro sports produces selection pressure, and that we end up selecting for thugs.
There seem to be very few "checks" in the high-school or collegiate sports programs to select AGAINST players who are excellent athletes and work well with the team, but who cannot function well outside of that environment. I'm not saying they're ALL thugs, or even that MOST of them are -- only that a focus on competition and victory in a narrow arena will result in selection AGAINST individuals who waste personal resources being well-rounded.
We just had a date-rape case here in Happy Valley, where some first-year BYU football players were accused of raping an underage girl. Nobody disputes that there was sex, and the BYU Standards Office has already taken care of expelling the players in question, but to my knowledge the recruiting practice hasn't been reviewed. SOMEBODY went out and recruited some stellar athletes whose personal standards were low. These young men agreed in writing to abide by a code of dress, grooming, and behavior as part of their enrollment at BYU, and it took them less than a semester to break their word AND break the law. The result is that the whole team, the whole athletics PROGRAM looks bad.
Not that I care about the image of the team or the program, mind you. Personally, I think we'd be better off without it.
That seems to sum things up. My problem with the lectures about "good sportsmanship" that I heard in school was that they were only lectures, there was no laboratory section where it was actually put into practice. Having Vince Lombardi's "Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing." repeatedly quoted at me did not help in the least.
A couple years ago I heard a radio editorial by a writer for Sports Illustrated who proposed, just after another problem came to light, that football scouting needs to be done by two people. One person would need to be an expert on the game, on what makes a good quarterback, and so on. And that's all he (or she) would do. The other person wouldn't need know anything at all about the game, but be an expert at jerk recognition. This person would have absolute veto power over the football expert.
I do not expect such a thing to ever actually happen. It's far too sensible for sports.
And if they do try it, they might find some way to screw it up, such as instead of hiring a guy, they try to write jerk-recognition software.
A long time ago, I used to follow professional sports. Then one single event changed my mind. Some star pro athlete was refusing to go to training camp because he didn't make enough money despite already having a contract. The irony really hit home because I was packing my bags to go a little something that was called Desert Sheild. Remember that one. Anyway, I didn't go, another unit was sent. But I did know people who did go. And some them were actually on food stamps to feed their families. Of course this got me thinking of all the people who contribute so much more to society with a massive rewards.
Lastly, one of my roommates from the Army days was from Milwaukee. He mentioned that the Green Bay Packers had one guy on staff whoee job was to go around town and cover bad checks that the players had written.