Sports Of All Sorts…..How Do We Explain What Is Going On With The “Heroes” In Their Generation….By RC

Too much information, infinite information at the touch of a fingertip, social media, talk radio, talk television, and on and on…….! I really do feel sorry for this generation of kids. What should be a real positive in their world of curiosity has turned really negative. I can remember combing through encyclopedias and dictionaries for hours and hours and not being able to come up with 10% of the information that today’s kids can glean in five minutes on their computers, iphones, ipads, or whatever device is being invented in the next ten minutes.

Anytime that they tune-in, click on, dial-up, message, or tag they are seemingly either sending out some really juicy information or receiving the same garbage. And the three big categories of influence: politics, Hollywood, and sports are supplying far too many horror stories for this generation. The youth of today are continually being fed news that Washington DC is completely dysfunctional and they prove it day in and day out. The kids also are exposed to people in the entertainment business who will do anything, and I mean anything, to grab a headline. The weirder the better!

I will leave the Washington mess to the folks on Fox and MSNBC and the other oversaturated markets boasting talk radio. And I will leave the downward spiral in Hollywood to the Entertainment shows that are also so numerous that the market has completely watered itself down. I will however talk sports.

In the not so distant past a kid could unwrap a trading card in a pack of gum and know that the guy in the picture would probably be wearing that same uniform until he was finished with his career. Loyalty by both the player and the team was unquestioned and it accounted for many lifelong fans of both. And then came free agency and with that brought the all powerful money. Suddenly loyalty was a thing of the past.

This generation of kids and many of their parents can only root for the brand because the players come and go like a bad wheat harvest. Few players have the opportunity to finish up in the same uniform as when they were a rookie. No matter how bright their star may have shone in their prime, the first indication that their age has made them just a small liability to the team, they are history for that organization.

For that reason you cannot blame players for taking advantage of free agency and moving on before they are moved out. But for the youngsters it can be heart breaking and more than that remove the idea of loyalty from their repertoire of growing up.

Worse than that is the terrible truth about a player or athlete, that they believed was playing by the rules while reaching super stardom, reveals that they indeed were excelling with the help of illegal performance enhancing dope. Or the young fan has to learn that one of their favorite team players has either taken their own life or the life of someone else without being able to explain any of the happenings.

Let me throw out just a few names that comes to mind when we talk about performance enhancers: Roger Clemons, Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, Lance Armstrong, Alex Rodriquez just to name a few. And now look at Oscar Pistorius, the South African Olympian who stole the hearts of the world at the games of the Thirtieth Olympiad in London because he overcame a terrible birth defect to compete in the able-bodied competition. He made the entire world feel good and no matter what country the Olympic fan hailed from they were surely pulling for this man to win something.

I will not become a judge and jury and render a verdict on behalf of Mr. Pistorius in the slaying of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp but I will say that some of the evidence collected in the investigative process is not all that encouraging for me as a fan. The fact that this young lady is dead and her loss of life, we know, came at the hands of Pistorius and the story being told is enough to completely turn off any adoring youngster or us older folks as well.

And remember last football season when we all learned that Kansas City Chief’s linebacker Jovan Belcher shot himself to death in front of his coaches after first killing his girlfriend and leaving their daughter without parents. I don’t know the cause and doubt that anyone will ever know what really triggered this double tragedy but whatever the reason it was yet one more incident that young fans had to hear and see.

Right here in our own backyard we saw yet another Dallas Cowboy get behind the wheel of a high dollar automobile while slobbering drunk and take off like there was no tomorrow. Josh Brent, a defensive linemen for Dallas, and his alcohol impaired mind decided to ignore all red flags and accelerate to over 100 miles per hour without concern for life or limb. After flipping the vehicle multiple times Brent’s college teammate and Cowboy teammate Jerry Brown was killed. Another lesson that our kids should not have to learn from yet another sports “star”!

The list of unexplainable and irreversible behaviors by those people that should be held in such high esteem continues to mount. The news cycle seems to deliver more bad news than good news in this day and age. It just isn’t right. I remember once reading that President Reagan always read the sports section of the daily paper first because he said that he liked to start with the good news firs.

I know that athletes have not always been perfect and that there is some bad behavior in the history of most any sport but it wasn’t always so tragic or life changing. Kids should not have to hear this over and over.

I can remember reading once upon a time where Mickey Mantle had one of his temper tantrums and kicked a water cooler through a window. My Dad sat me down and explained to me that I could love the Mick all I wanted but if he did that again I might want to consider finding a new hero. Thanks goodness I didn’t hear of it again. Mickey Mantle had many faults such as boozing and womanizing but rarely, if ever, did he hurt anyone besides himself.

The truth of the matter is that kids can learn from the bad as well as the good. But for this generation it will take some mighty powerful parenting to explain to the kids what the consequences can be for making decisions that affect someone else’s life. I would like to think that the worst that they will have to endure in the future is their “hero” of several years leaving their favorite team. However, I’m afraid that the loss of life and cheating is here to stay.

To all the Mom’s and Dad’s or other significants in the life of our children please let me know when you get this all figured out!


About Ronnie Clifton

Ronnie Clifton was a Texas Football Coach for 29 years. In addition to football, Clifton also served as the head coach in basketball and both girls and boys track. “I loved being involved in and playing sports as a kid, and I soaked up every ounce of available information about any sporting event; I also love to write. What better combo for me than becoming the writer of a sports blog?”
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