Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Athlete Worship and Role Models

There's are lot of people upset over the latest Super Bowl.  What's new?  Pro-death groups are mad at the Doritos commercial about a baby.  There are people upset over Beyonce supporting and pushing the Black Panthers.  Coldplay, though a great band, was pretty boring at halftime.  There's the terrible sex-trafficking issues that Super Bowls always bring.  There's lots that people are mad about, though clearly some are more warranted and important issues than others.

Since those things have all been written about extensively, I wanted to write about something else I saw.  It's something I've written about before a bit.  It's just never more clear than it is right now with the Broncos winning the Super Bowl and me living amongst Bronco fans.

A friend of mine recently wrote a blog about how Von Miller tended to troll and bully people online.  My friend was sickened when he thought about all the kids who look up to him and the poor role model he was being.  Miller's actions were teaching kids that bullying is okay.  If my favorite player does it, so should I.  It was a great article that made a lot of great points.  My buddy who works with youth had a really great perspective.

Reading the article sparked some thoughts of my own in a slightly different direction.  I think I'm more concerned with how fans worship players like MVP Miller and Aqib Talib.  Though I have a problem with the online trolling Miller has been doing throughout his time on social media, I'm more concerned with how they handle themselves on the field in front of millions, and how fans not only tolerate it but celebrate it.  They look the other way because they let winning become an idol over morality.  In that, it sends a terrible message to kids.

To my point, many Bronco fans would throw their arms up and say "Why are you picking on Miller and Talib?"  Many truly believe they are model citizens or something.  They'd probably call me a Chiefs fan troll.  Do they have a point or are they blinded by the idol of winning?  Well, let's discuss the evidence.

Miller, it seems, is constantly cheapshotting people and trying to hurt them.  There's plenty of video evidence to make that accusation.  He's tries to trip people he's not good enough to tackle, hits quarterbacks way late, spears them with his helmet, throws people down after the whistle blows, puts his knee on the throat of other players trying to crush their windpipe, and much more.  I'll touch on the more part in a bit.  The man seems to have some serious rage issues even for a football player.  It goes well beyond just being aggressive.

Talib has done the same kind of stuff with his latest offense nearly breaking someones neck by grabbing their facemask violently and twisting them to the ground. "One [penalty] I just did on purpose and I just had to show him." -Talib referring to the extreme facemasking penalty which he actually also called complete BS.  Well, it was.  He was only penalized one yard when he should have been thrown out of the game.  There was also the incident where he was going after another player's eyes and sight earlier in the season.  It's pretty despicable stuff.  He's had a long list of transgressions throughout his career.  Still, if you google him, you find people talking about him slipping on his backside jumping on the stage to be interviewed after the game.  Few seem to care that he just tried to severely injure someone, an injury that could have left the player dead or paralyzed.  I think we call that anything from aggravated assault to attempted murder outside of the football stadium.  Wouldn't be the first time he tried to kill someone...or at least been accused and indicted for it.  The other time, he "allegedly" used a gun.

Miller not wanting to be outdone adds, "I tried to lay on him a few times. I tried to rub my **** on his face."  Uh...I'm no lawyer but I'm pretty sure that if this were done off a football field, that person would be going to jail for sexual assault...unless you're Peyton Manning in college.  Miller later denied that he was the one who said it but unfortunately for him, there's video evidence of him humping others' faces during games.  So either Miller is a lying or the Broncos have more than one player trying to sexually assault other players.

With the Broncos, these two aren't the only players breaking rules and doing very questionable things.  There's a good list of other players who have as well, from dirty plays to past or present PED use.  You can find those lists on any team really, in any sport.  Obviously, some things are worse than others.  Trying to seriously injure someone's neck and dry humping faces are certainly up there.

Normally, I'm not a person who likes to go around airing other people's dirty laundry because we all have some sort of dirty laundry we're not proud of.  With Miller and Talib, though, they seem to be proud of it.  (With Peyton and the incident with the college trainer, he did put it in his book for the public to read...whether he was proud of it or not.)  They wear it as a badge of honor.  They're already putting it out there proudly for the world to see.

We write these things off as boys will be boys or it's just football.  We laugh it off and give their jerseys to our kids.  We turn the blind eye because they win.  We deny and pretend it never happened. We let winning trump morality.  The media loves them.  Fans love them.  It seems all of America loves them.  Even Obama gives them shout outs.

I guess that's why we call it fandom.  That word comes from the word fanatic, and fanatics don't usually think logically or rationally.  Case in point, there's no reason the Cubs should have any fans having not won a World Series since the dinosaurs roamed the earth.  But they have some of the most loyal fans you'll ever meet.  Heck, I've been a Royals fan my whole life and up until this past season, that wasn't really rational.

I don't just want to single out the Broncos and their fans in the football conversation.  We as fans, across the board, must be better and demand better from those we root for and support.  We must be careful to not glorify those not worth glorifying.  Let's not make role models for our kids out of those unworthy of being role models.  There are good guys in the NFL.  There's lots of them, I'm sure.  We just need to look a little deeper than their box score.  Don't follow blindly because of what the media or your buddies tell you.  Let's not sellout our morals for winning.  "For what good is it to gain the whole world if you lose your soul?" Mark 8:36.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

That Terrible Cam Newton Press Conference #SB50

I tend to write every now and then about sports.  I've never posted anything on the blog but I figure, if it's already written, why not post it?  Sports is a big part of my life so I might as well share my thoughts.

With the Super Bowl being yesterday, there has been a lot of talk of how Cam Newton handled himself at the news conference after the game.  This 26 year-old is catching a lot of flack for being a sore loser.  Most of it is coming from the media desperately trying to make a mountain out of a molehill.  And where the media goes, the general public soon follows because a lot of people have trouble thinking for themselves.  But that's for another day, another blog post.

So what happened?  The Panthers lose to the Donkeys.  The Panthers made way too many costly mistakes.  The Denver D gets away with a ton of instances that are against the rules.  They beat up Cam, the quarterback of the Panthers, much later than the rules allow many times.  Denver isn't punished, though, in most of the cases.  With all that going on, it keeps Cam and the Panthers from moving the ball.  The Panthers should have played better but to a lot of non-Bronco fans, it appeared that the game might be fixed.  Now, I won't go as far as saying the game was fixed because players still have to play the game but it did at times appear the league was strongly nudging the game in the direction to help what the league thought was the best storyline happen.  Those nudges made for huge point swings that could have cost the Panthers the game.  But again, the Panthers certainly didn't help themselves either.  Had they just cleaned up their own mistakes, they probably would have won.

Well, after the game, Cam was not happy.  You could tell he was pissed and extremely saddened to let his chance to win a Super Bowl slip away.  He sulked having to answer the questions.  At times, he gave one-word answers.  Towards the end, you start hearing the Broncos press conference occurring nearby.  To the losing team, it certainly could come across like gloating or trash-talking.  Those conferences should never have to hear each other.  It was pretty poor planning by the league.  Or maybe it was planned out that way to get a poor response out of the losing team.  I think the NFL views drama as good.  They love it even when they pretend they don't.  It keeps people talking.  It keeps their eyes on the NFL.  As they say in Hollywood, the only bad publicity is no publicity at all.  Well, the league got their drama.  Eventually, he just got up and left before the interview was officially over.

I think Cam's actions were fine.  The NFL puts players like him in a really bad position after games.  They force you to do a conference right after the game and then tell you what you can and can't say.  That's ridiculous.  It would be much better, at least for the losing team, if they actually gave players a day to cool off before releasing them to the wolves that are the media. 

Even the much worshiped Peyton Manning (except for that stretch during the season where fans hated him, booed him, and basically threw him under the bus) has had his bad moments in front of the press. That's what you get with extreme competitors...which we want but only certain aspects of it.

Cam shouldn't be criticized for the press conference just because he's not who people want him to be.  Cam is a competitor.  He should be mad after a loss.  He should be sad.  It will probably stick with him till he plays his next game months from now.  I'm the ultimate competitor.  It's taken me years to get to the point where losses don't destroy me and ruin my week.  I still hate losing though.  I get where Cam was coming from.  The media and the fans will criticize but deep down, those people don't want Cam to change because they know that hate of losing, that competitiveness is going to drive him to be better.  We say we want one thing and criticize but really want another thing.  It's hypocritical.

I'm sure Cam was not only hurting emotionally during the press conference but also hurting physically...because he got the snot beat out of him.  He took some illegal helmet to helmet shots to and may have been slightly concussed.  He certainly didn't seem like the same Cam we're used to most of the game.  The league normally protects players from speaking after getting concussions but if Cam was concussed, I'm guessing he didn't tell anyone.  It's the Super Bowl.  You tell someone you might be concussed and they sit you the rest of the game.  No player is going to do that.  I've had plenty of concussions in my life.  That's no state of mind to be in and have to deal with the press.

Quite frankly, Cam probably had nothing nice to say so he said very little and then chose to say nothing at all.  Isn't that what we teach kids from young age?  If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all.  If he doesn't want to talk, he shouldn't have to.  He could have easily said that they lost because the Broncos D is the dirtiest in the league.  He could have also said that the refs did all they could to give the game to the Broncos.  He could have thrown his line under the bus and blamed the loss on their terrible play.  Though all of that was probably going thru his mind, he chose not to.  Instead, he said little and eventually left.  I don't blame him.  He basically told the truth that everyone on the team needed to play better including himself.  He gave the reporters enough to write their stories and left before saying something he'd regret.  We should be patting him on the back, not crucifying him.

The truth is, I'm not normally a Cam supporter.  Cam actually annoys me most of the time but this isn't one of them.  I do see him maturing...and becoming less annoying.  I'm actually a big fan of him giving touchdown balls to kids in the stands. It's a step forward for him.  It's cool that he's pouring into the kids and probably making their whole year.  He's seems like he's making strides in life and on the football field.  Let's not kick him while he's down.  And lets be honest, aren't there bigger things in football and in life to worry about than a 26 year-old's press conference that will be forgotten in a month or much shorter?