Tag Archives: Sports

When The Beast Wins, Children Lose

A ten-year old student in an ELA class at one of my schools was asked to provide an argument for something he felt strongly about. He chose a sports related topic. This is what he wrote, unedited.

Parents, teachers, coaches and kids! I call on you to change the policy that kids have to try out for sports. It’s wrong to not let kids join sports because it hurts their self-esteem, because it builds a nasty sense of competition and because all kids deserve to play if they want. 

Some pooh-pooh the idea that a kids self-esteem gets hurt but how do you think it makes us feel? I’ll tell you how it feels, it feels TERRIBLE. It feels lie everyone is staring at us , feeling sorry for us. It makes us wonder if we’ll ever be good enough. The truth is our school, coaches or parents don’t think we’re good enough to participate. They’re supposed to make you feel stronger or better, not destroy your self-esteem and confidence.

Not allowing other kids to join sports also makes kids competitive with each other. In one survey, 18 out of 20 kids said they would rather make the team than stay friends with each other. In an interview with a student who made the team, this article said, “I really don’t hang out with any of my friends now who didn’t make the team. They don’t have the shirt we have. I don’t know, I just don’t see them any more. You might think competition brings out the best in kids and maybe it does when they’re older but in elementary school it makes kids mean and lonely.”

The most important reason not to make cuts is that all kids deserve to play. For goodness sakes!!!! We’re nine and ten years old. Isn’t this the time we should be learning skills, getting stronger and having fun? A lot of people say it’s just sports, that’s how it is. But we’re not pro ball players. All of us deserve a chance to get better.

Change this policy, please. Give us the fast legs and strong bodies we deserve. Let us all be the athlete we want to be. 

Interesting discussion topic.

I have three daughters who played multiple sports through high school and I coached basketball and softball for quite a few years.

But it was a very different time in terms of youth sports. It was not all-consuming and I could probably write a short book on the strong feelings I have about children and the parents and coaches who affect their lives.

The immersion and consumption of time in sports today at a very early age has to be witnessed in order to be understood. I think the biggest fear for me is how it affects families and the time they spend together.

Or don’t.

It’s time that will never be returned to them and it passes so very quickly.

I understand that making cuts as it relates to some teams are the nature of sports and I think some kids learn from these disappointments, but some things this student said are pretty sad; specifically about the interaction between kids who make teams and those who don’t, and what competition brings out in children.
At younger ages, it should never be about the score. Who wins is irrelevant. How good you are at 8-9-10, is irrelevant. We’ve all seen stars at ten who burn out or fall behind others as they get older; stars at ten years old who never play a high school game. Coaches and parents lose sight of the fact that young children who choose to play sports should, as this child mentions, focus on basic skills and development, not winning and losing. Can both be accomplished? Of course. But all too often one takes control of the other. It’s the nature of the beast.

Most importantly, children at that age should be having fun. Sadly, and all too often, that simple goal is not part of a parent or coaches mindset.

Children should be allowed to be children and families should be allowed to enjoy those few precious years together.

Sports is a great outlet and competition is healthy as long as both are done intelligently and balanced properly.

I was going to conclude by saying that I hope this young man figures it out and finds sports to be a positive experience, but it’s really not his decision, is it?

So I hope the adults in his life figure it out and provide this child with a positive experience. Lord knows our children can use all the positive experiences they can get.

 

Unfortunately, it’s not always provided by those who have the opportunity to do so.

Greed, Violence And Sports

There is a 56-year-old man in Baltimore clinging to life today because he was beaten inside the stadium of a Baltimore Ravens football game.

In Alabama, the first three months of football season are the deadliest months of the year because of DUI fatalities.

Not long ago, before a college football game in Nebraska, police had to breakup a tailgate and force 3000 people to leave, after arresting fifteen individuals.

In separate incidents at different stadiums across the country, a group attacked a single man and stabbed him to death, two other people were shot at different times and two men suffered irreparable brain damage after being attacked outside different stadiums.

A two-year old girl who was out on a pumpkin picking trip with her parents will live her life as a paraplegic because of a head-on collision caused by a man who was driving drunk after leaving a professional football game.

Philadelphia Eagles fans are notoriously brutal; so much so that in the late 90’s the club installed a jail and courtroom in the bowels of their stadium where unruly fans were arrested, put on trial and sentenced by a judge who was forced to be in attendance for every home game.

These examples are a microscopic sampling of what goes on before, during and after sporting events in this country. Football games, both college and professional are especially  guilty of this type of behavior. I’m not even addressing the rioting that goes on after teams win or lose championships, as if celebrations need to be intoxicated examples of boorish and irresponsible behavior.

Why? In part, the short answer is alcohol, though the parties involved will quietly move away from that topic because of the financial implications.

Now, I have been a season ticket holder for New York Giants football games for 40 years. For the first 30 years I rarely missed a game, attending well over 300 during that 40 year period. I’ve seen some pretty ugly stuff during that time. I’ve also attended countless baseball games in several ballparks. Also not a pretty picture.

When you take upwards of 80,000 people, many with testosterone issues, and you place them in a parking lot where they’ve been drinking for 3-4 hours before a game starts, then cramp them into a stadium where large amounts of beer is sold, considering there are fans from both teams at these games, you have the strong potential of several thousand angry and drunk individuals. That’s a potent combination and a recipe for dangerous confrontations in and outside of the stadiums.

Statistics tell us that those who tailgate are fourteen times more likely to be legally drunk during or after a game and that one in ten people leaving these games are legally drunk. So in a stadium that holds 80,000 people, 8,000 people are walking out impaired and many of those are getting into car and hitting the roads. Multiply that by hundreds of stadiums across the country on any given weekend.

And yet, very few restrictions are put on these individuals before or after a game.

Look, I love a good tailgate as much as the next person and even though I don’t drink, I don’t have a problem with people who do, as long as they do it responsibly. But if I want to take a child to a game and it’s going to cost me upwards of 250.00 for two tickets, another 30.00 to park and who knows what else inside the stadium, I want to be able to enjoy the entertainment in front of me without  someone throwing around four letter words. I want  to know I can cheer for a team without being attacked because of it, regardless of what stadium I’m in. I want a safe environment and considering the billions of dollars these teams and leagues are generating in revenue, they should be able to provide that for me. It doesn’t seem like too much to ask.

But they won’t do that because the product would suffer. They don’t want to alienate the crazy fans who buy $120.00 team jerseys and they certainly don’t want their beer concession sales to suffer. Both would be a financial hit to the bottom line, and regardless of the smoke and mirrors they place in front of us, it’s always about the bottom line. Restrictions, random testing, increased security, removing people from games before incidents occur, implementing proactive measures to avoid injury or death; these are all things that should be considered but probably never will.

So lives will continue to be altered, families will continue to mourn the loss of loved ones or face a future of long-term care and the games will continue to be played.

Because greed and violence is as much a part of sports as the play on the field.

Anyone who tells you differently works for a team or a league office.

 

Football, Gambling And Life

I read an article a few days ago that estimates Americans will wager 95 BILLION dollars on college and NFL games this coming season. Of that figure, 93 billion will be bet illegally. Keep in mind, this is only one sport that essentially covers five months out of the year.

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In order to try to gain some perspective, that number is 30 billion more than Google’s 2014 revenues.

Now, I enjoy watching football, I attend games and even take part in some friendly and inexpensive football pools. I don’t bet on games and never have. Though it may be entertaining, for me, all forms of gambling is a fool’s game. If it wasn’t Vegas would be dark and the bookies would be selling cars.

There are many hypocrisies related to sports, with gambling being close to the top of the list. The NFL, as an example, realizes that, in large part, their popularity is tied into the money that is being gambled each week. All sports do, which is why they are all trying to find ways to legally grab a piece of that pie. Politicians are no different. Legalized gambling can generate significant revenues for states, which they can then use to____________ ( you can fill in the blank as sarcastically as you wish.)

As for me, I can’t help but wonder how much good we can do in this country with 95 billion dollars. I understand sports is an entertainment and we’re all entitled to spend our entertainment money in any way we like.  But 95 billion dollars? That’s a lot of good being spent on self-indulgence, isn’t it?

Whenever I doubt if I’m right in thinking our priorities may be a little distorted, I read an article like this and wonder how we got to a place where, with everything we see going on around us, we can read something like this and not even blink or react.

How much does the sandbox need to be filled before it can no longer hold its own weight? My guess is we’ll find out soon enough.

 

At The Intersection Of Ignorant And Clueless

So here comes Josh Smith who will be playing basketball for the Los Angeles Clippers this coming season, during which time he will earn the nice little sum of 6.9 million dollars. In case you’d like to put a name to a face, here you go. I’ll get to his ludicrous comments in a moment.

397162f28ba05d91cd8c9ad114fbf5ae_crop_northNow, Josh seems like a nice enough guy. The problem is, like many athletes, he lives in a world that’s very different from the rest of us. So when they speak, which their agents, team representatives and PR people should always discourage, we are often left shaking our heads at the absurdities that dribble from their lips.

As an example, here is Josh attempting to wax poetic about the 6.9 million dollar salary he will be paid this coming season, which is about half of the 14 million he was paid last season.

“At the end of the day, you know, I do have a family. So it is going to be a little harder on me this year. But I’m going to push through it, you know… I made a decision for me and my family.”

He’s going to push through it? Really? Are you @#$%^&* kidding me????

Sorry, but you need to slow your roll, big guy.

Now, before you go out and plan a benefit to help support ol Josh’s struggles and misfortune on the salary cut, you should know that he has played in the NBA for several years and has earned in the area of 91 million dollars, give or take a few hundred thousand.

That’s 91 million #$%^&* dollars!!

Should we ask The Stones to play Sympathy For The Devil for you, Josh, simply because you need to  cut back on that new loaded Escalade you were eyeing up or those extra thirty custom suits in rainbow colors or the first class trip to Bora Bora complete with concierge service you might have to rethink? Cause I know it’s not about being able to take the family to Chuck E Cheese  tonight and play some fifty cent video games, right?

I’d like to say this is an isolated incident but it’s not. Sports is littered with his type of oblivious thinking. Several years back a basketball player by the name of Latrell Sprewell was once offered a three-year, 30 million dollar contract which he found, “insulting.” LIke Smith, Sprewell didn’t think that salary would be enough for his family to live comfortably. Not long after, he was out of basketball and ended up filing bankruptcy. As I recall there were no tears shed for Latrell.
Sometimes Karma will come out and bite you in the ass if you decide to kick it around guys.

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So here’s my thing. If you want to live a lavish lifestyle that only supports you for the time you have a career and then causes you to lose it all because you never had the smarts or self-control to rein in your spending, plan for the future or take care of yourself and your family, that’s your choice. You have the ability to live large and take your friends out for thirty-five thousand dollar dinners? Good for you. It’s not my place to say how anyone should spend the money they earn and quite honestly,  I really don’t care.

Just please do me a favor and don’t insult the general population with comments like this, which paint you as a spoiled, greedy, single-minded, clueless individual who thinks the world revolves around the air you breathe.

We already have too many people like that in our lives at the moment. They’re called politicians. We don’t need jocks joining that dance.