By Joe Hanretty
Here in America, fall is the season for which we all wait with bated breath. Why? Well, football season, of course! It is a time when we can all come together with family and friends to watch professional athletes compete. That is what is so great about the NCAA and especially the NFL. There is so much hype and built-up anticipation to feast our eyes on some of the most gifted humans on the planet. What more could you ask for, when a majority of these professionals are blessed with the awesome combination of size, speed, strength, agility and coordination?
Maybe there is one thing: maturity. I understand that most of these “kids” are under 30, but as the adage goes, “There comes a time in a man’s life when he has to decide whether to grow up or not.” It applies to all, especially those who are put on as high a pedestal as they are. In recent weeks, the public has been made aware of multiple assault charges that are being brought against certain notable players: Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice and Greg Hardy. The first is arguably the best running back in the league, the second was once in that same conversation and the third is an outstanding defensive lineman. Now, it is well-documented knowledge that the NFL is known for its annual suspensions. However, they usually come in the form of lesser offenses and the offenses are usually committed by lesser-known players. The events of the past month have been fairly unprecedented. Three formerly well-respected players are now facing possible jail time and each has been deactivated by his respective team – the Minnesota Vikings, the Baltimore Ravens and the Carolina Panthers.
Peterson has been charged with assaulting his four-year-old son. Rice was captured on video appearing to knock out his girlfriend in an elevator. Hardy has also been accused of assaulting his girlfriend. These offenses are very serious and have drawn warranted attention and alarm in the league. Questions abound: Why are these men so violent? Why is the league constantly harboring criminals who happen to be incredible athletes? These are all good questions, but a single aspect must be targeted: parental guidance.
I am not talking about Peterson, Rice and Hardy as parents; rather, I am talking about their parents. In two of these cases, the root of the problem can be traced back to their childhoods. Peterson was brought up by his mother after his brother was killed and his father was arrested for dealing cocaine. Rice was brought up solely by his mother after his father was killed by a drive-by shooting. There is a logical connection between how a child is brought up and the way he chooses to live as an adult. A child’s upbringing is crucial to positive development in his future.
These athletes’ parents brought them into the world, but they neglected to create a suitable atmosphere for bringing up a child. Hopefully the NFL cleans up this mess and prevents further violations to set an example, not only to its players but also to a nation that gives its full attention to them every week for four months. More importantly, though, it is something to think about as future parents ourselves. The way we raise our children will play a role in shaping their characters.