Monday, October 13, 2014

Then…A Father Comforts A Downtrodden Sports Fan

As published in The County Times ( in Oct 2014

By Ronald N. Guy Jr.

It’s been a rough few weeks.  I approach my television with trepidation.  The Internet, a one-time fountain of fun, has been reduced to a crisis reporter.  I avert my eyes from ESPN’s scroll and avoid emails from a TMZ-obsessed friend.  I don’t want to know what’s next, but I can’t escape reality.  I’ve been shocked, confused and angered.  And now?  Well, now I am just terribly disappointed. 

Best I can tell, this emotional spiral started with Ray Rice; but it’s fuzzy.  Pinpointing the moment a long-term relationship began to sour would be easier.  This I know for certain: I started feeling rotten after Rice received a token two-game suspension for beating his wife.  The public outcry was swift and visceral – and right.  In an effort to appease the swelling mob with an ounce of executive flesh, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell admitted fault and increased the penalty for domestic violence.  A temporary calm was achieved.

Then, the other half of the Rice video – the half containing the disturbing crime – was released, and with it the willful negligence or indisputable incompetence (it’s a toss up) of the league’s prosecution was on public display.  Then, determined to intensify the situation, the Baltimore Ravens fumbled their announcement of Rice’s release.  Then the NFL hired a former FBI director to launch an independent investigation.  Then Indiana Pacers forward Paul George tweeted (always a dangerous move) a defense of Rice that “argued” a man hitting a woman in retaliation of said woman hitting said man is not domestic violence.  Really?  Then San Francisco 49ers announcer Ted Robinson was suspended two games for criticizing Rice’s wife, Janay Rice.  Then boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., a dude that’s done time for domestic violence, minimized Rice’s actions by essentially saying far worse occurs in homes.  How comforting.

Had enough yet?  No?  Okay…

Then a tape leaked of Atlanta Hawks General Manager Danny Ferry, son of former Washington Bullets GM Bob Ferry, making disgusting, racist remarks about the African heritage of NBA player Luol Deng.  Then Charm City, as if to say “don’t forget about us in this extraordinary professional-sports-dumpster-fire-competition”, veered back into the pathetic pattern when Orioles slugger Chris Davis was suspended 25 games for amphetamine use.  Then Adrian Peterson, all-world running back for the Minnesota Vikings, was indicted for child abuse.  He was deactivated from last Sunday’s game and faces an uncertain personal and professional future.

Aaaaand then… 

Stop.  Please.  I’m under the covers with my eyes closed, hands over my ears and I’m humming loudly.  Don’t make me burn all electronic devices, lock all doors and call in sick to work indefinitely.  I will.  That’s where I am.  I’ve had enough.  This has gotten so bad that a sexual assault allegation against Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Daniel Snyder’s stubborn mishandling of his team’s embattled (slowly dying) moniker barely registered.  Great? 

My kids have reached ages necessitating the sad exchange of some of nature’s embedded innocence for the harsh realities of our flawed species.  The age-appropriate discussion has included stranger danger, sex offenders, criminals and mean people with bad intentions.  They are all out there; we all have to pay attention and remain vigilant.  But not to worry, I say.  Such people are the exception.  The world is mostly comprised of good people who consistently do the right thing.  Mostly.

It was a necessary conversation, one whose underlying emotion - disappointment – was rekindled by the aforementioned rash of disturbing sports stories.  They’ve left me ashamed to be a sports fan and disheartened as a man.  Part of me wants to suspend my support of pro sports altogether, to find a new hobby and to turn my kids away from the games I love.  But then my own pitch counteracts my overreaction.  Not all sports personalities cheat, harbor racist thoughts, commit domestic violence and beat their children.  Not all athletes are bad - in fact, the preponderance are good.  The occupants of the sports world are a reflection of the occupants of the real world.  That’s the counseling my inner sports fan received from my inner father.  It worked – for now.

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