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Let’s Take Back Sports for the Kids

Many parents?like myself?have long viewed sports as a positive part of childhood. My son has participated in soccer, basketball and/or baseball for many years. I thought they were a way to teach him responsibility, teamwork, respect for adult authority figures, physical fitness, and more. But it seems like the message didn’t get through to some of these sports superstars.

I just heard the National Football League announce that it was going to scrutinize game tapes to look for suspicious hand gestures made by players. And we’re not talking about a one-finger salute.

It seems they’re worried that some professional football players may also be gang members, and may be throwing gang signs during the game. One more reason not to trust them as role models.

Last year, Darrent Williams, a cornerback for the Denver Broncos, was shot and killed by known street gang members, prompting the NFL’s concern. And the trouble isn?t limited to football. Just this April, the Boston Celtics’ Paul Pierce received a $25,000 fine for two “menacing gestures” toward the Atlanta Hawks’ bench.

These incidents join a host of misbehaviors by professional athletes, and I’m fed up. Gangs, DWIs, steroids and other drugs, fights?need I go on? Not that I have ever encouraged my son to look to sports figures for lessons in life, but I just wish that I could.

I used to think I?d like my son to participate in high school sports for all the reasons listed above. Also, ?they? used to say that student athletes got better grades and stayed out of trouble because they had a place to belong, had something to do with their time and energy, and they had coaches that kept them in line. But the problems are trickling down, and even at the high school level, athletics are big bucks and high stakes. I recently heard a public school teacher advocate that a community build a bigger high school (instead of two smaller ones) even though bigger schools tend to have lower educational success, so that the new school could compete at the 5A level. What?s wrong here?

But really, I?m not here to complain. What I want is for parents to take back the games for our own kids. Where do we begin?

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