I grew up in Florida and down here football is king. From pee wee to high school and college the sport is huge, the only place where it may be bigger is Texas. When I was in high school I started on the varsity team for two years and played offense and defense. All of us who played football were treated differently and the rules did not apply to us. In my senior year I skipped school 60 times simply because I knew I could. I knew the absences would be excused and they were. I wasn’t even a star I was just a starter and yet I had almost a celebrity status – all of us on the football team did.
Looking back that is the worst thing my high school could have done for me. I needed discipline and I needed to be pushed not excused. No one ever called my parents and told them I didn’t show up at school as long as I showed up Friday night for the game.
In the mid 90′s Nebraska had an undefeated team and the best running back in the country, Lawrence Phillips. He was strong and fast and was easily going to be the first overall draft pick. Well one night Lawrence got mad at his girlfriend and decided to drag her down five flights of stairs by the hair. The school was forced to get involved and suspended him for a few games but made sure he was able to play in the national championship game which they won. The man dragged his girlfriend down the stairs by her hair and basically received no punishment. The message sent to young men was clear: If you can play football your behavior will be excused even if it is something as serious as beating your girlfriend. Lawrence Phillips went on to get drafted in the first round but he never made it in the NFL because he couldn’t follow the rules and he eventually ended up in jail.
This attitude is prevalent throughout the country especially in college but I think it is changing and that is a good thing. I think some good is going to come from the Penn State travesty. I think everyone was so shocked and disgusted that it caused a lot of people to look in the mirror and realize that football is not as important as life. I think maybe the men who run these programs are beginning to realize they are not doing these kids any favors by treating them differently.
There is a new commercial with the President and many athletes who send the message “never, ever hit a woman”. Good. It’s about time good men stand up and hold bad men accountable for their actions.
Last month Chad Johnson who is a wide receiver in the NFL beat his wife and the Dolphins cut him the next day. That would not have happened two years ago. Even more important than that is his wife immediately filed for divorce.
This year LSU dismissed Tyrann Mathieu for behavior problems and violating team rules. He is one of the best players in the country and they dismissed him. There is no way that would have happened two years ago. I’m beginning to see this a lot in college and the NFL and it is about time because when young men realize they will be held accountable for their actions maybe things will begin to change.
So who do you think has a bigger mouth, Julia Roberts or Mick Jagger?