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September 23, 2014

A Distorted ‘Day of Rest’

Harry M. Covert

News of late has had some interesting turns. Most assuredly the latest volte face involves professional football. Worries about the billion dollar television contracts, incredible player salaries and purported rules changes for safety and individual off-the-field conduct is the order of the day.


A day that for hundreds of years has been a “day of rest” is now reserved for widespread merry-making, non-stop television watching and constant commercials. Around these parts some say the Baltimore Ravens and the Washington Redskins are champions of attention. Now, that may be true somewhat for the M&T Stadium occupants and the FedEx Field proprietors. The former has a two wins, 1 loss record. The latter has one win and two losses. Both recent events were excited. Both stadiums are in Maryland. Taxes are good.


League officials and their millionaire 32 team owners are finding themselves in a public relations kerfuffle. How to handle player criminal behavior off the field and, to be fair, and an owner, too, have consumed lots of questioning – non-stop.


The situation in reality is the massive change in American culture. The shift now includes whether spanking disobedient children is right or wrong. Like most parents I know, their youngsters have always been perfect angels. This seems right in this aerie.


The professional athletic problem has surpassed baseball’s steroid era. In more than a decade, more than 700 NFL players have earned criminal records. Most recently a New England hulk was charged with two murders. He’s been dropped by the team and is in jail waiting trials.


A New York player spent several prison years for carrying a loaded pistol which fell out of his sweat pants in a club. Several others have been involved in jewel thefts in Texas. Numerous others have been charged with drunken driving, assault on wait persons. Of late the attention has been to wife-beaters, girlfriend belters and beating and bruising a boy with a switch.


There are others, of course. Just this past Sunday several players were thrown out of games for fighting. Honestly, it is amazing there aren’t more fisticuffs on the field with all of the pushing, shoving, illegal tackles, name-calling, usually some ugly talk about girlfriends, wives and mothers. The pros like to call this razzing opponents. Except, of course, when a 300-pound describes his foil with the cruel n-word and the ultra-obscene m*f-word. There are others, but I don’t know them all. I did have to get advice on what the word “schvatzer” meant. Comedian Jackie Mason explained it to me.


The matter of a man, whether an athlete, husband, boyfriend or other hitters, beating a person of the female gender, or even whipping the daylights out of a child, may well be culture but it is criminal. Local laws, police and court officials must take the big stick to such offenders. Professional sports leagues, collegiate presidents, athletic directors and coaches should also act promptly, too, no matter if championships hang in the balance.


There was just last week a Florida State University quarterback, a Heisman Trophy winner, stood on a table yelling epithets to women. First he was suspended for the first half. After some review he was grounded for the second half. This sweetheart has had nothing but trouble during his collegiate career, being charged with rape, then robbing a convenience store and a vocabulary filled with obscene words on campus for all to hear. Not the old college try to which I’m familiar.


Yes, college days have changed. Society has changed. Men supposedly mature and, university trained have disgraced their professions and families.


Every game nowadays has a coterie of police officers patrolling the fields. I thought they were to keep unruly fans from the gridirons. Heck, they’re doing double duty, apparently keeping the “culturally challenged at’letes” from attacking fans or “babies mammas.”


NFL team owners earn billions yearly after paying millions. This is not folly and, if interested, check out the money magazines.


Cutting a criminal-player or criminal-owner loose won’t stymie the playgrounds.


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