Blog Entry

People Who Care

Posted on: April 2, 2008 6:21 am
 

It’s a character issue.  Professional athletes especially in the NFL, are nothing more then a bunch of thugs.  I’ve heard this characterization, I’m sure you have also.  Perhaps it’s easy to believe this, given the headlines concerning Kobe Bryant, Mike Tyson, Tank Williams, Cedric Wilson, Adam “Pacman” Jones and more.  Of course, this is nothing new.  We remember the drug issues with the Dallas Cowboys of the 90’s and the legal problems with the Cincinnati Bengals players.  It’s not uncommon to see a bench clearing brawl in the MLB and NHL.  The NBA isn’t immune from it either, after all, how many times was the brawl during Pacer-Pistons game replayed on ESPN and other sports shows?

Then of course, we have the South Carolina doctor who was arrested for giving athletes performance enhancement drugs, there’s the Mitchell Report and the infamous “spygate”.  Okay, maybe spygate doesn’t need to be there, but it left questions to character.  Even team cheerleaders aren’t exempt from it, given the incident in Florida by a few Panthers cheerleaders a few years ago. 

Okay, let’s admit it.  We love the sensationalism that these stories bring.  Come on, how many slow down to get a glimpse of the nasty accident on the side of the road?  Why did the slow speed car chase with O.J. Simpson make national news?  Why was it replayed and reported on, over and over again.  The media knows what brings in viewers and readers.  They feed our desire for that “dirty laundry”.  Let’s face it, all you have to do is look at the boards on Sportsline and see that some of the most popular threads are the ones that point out the human error. 

I’m not saying we don’t follow the feel good stories.  The relief effort and the volunteerism by numerous sports figures to those affected by Katrina.  Watching the amazing progress that Kevin Everett of the Buffalo Bills has made since his injury.  We pulled for the Saints to have, at least a good year, during their displacement after Katrina.  Nothing new, Lou Gehrig won peoples heart when he disclosed he had ALS. 

Yet, even these feel good stories tend to get pushed back into the recesses of our memories, or just dumped from it, because soon another story, another incident comes around and we’re eating up these misdeeds, twisting and turning them until we’ve worn them out, then just wait for the next one to come up.  And as we’re feeding on them, we ask ourselves the stupid question of what happened to integrity?  The thing is, that integrity is still out there and is more the rule then the exception.  Yet we focus on the ill-begotten and miss the what goes on every day, outside of the spotlight. 

I had often heard that there aren’t people like Roberto Clemente and Walter Peyton around anymore.  People who care about others, who don’t have the “me me me” attitude.  Interestingly enough, there are more individuals who are like that.  Jason Taylor of the Miami Dolphin’s is one of them.  He’s this years recipient of the Walter Peyton Man of the Year Award.  Actually, the exception in professional sports is the thug like mentality and the rule are individuals who give back to their communities.  And the sports “franchises” encourage this.  Why else would the NFL present the Walter Peyton Man of the Year Award or the MLB give out the Roberto Clemente Man of the Year Award?  Yet it’s often just a small blurb in the news, perhaps buried somewhere on the back of a sports page that gets overlooked, more often in the community section.  It’s only news when there’s an award attached to it.  It doesn’t get much play time, unless, like after Katrina, there’s a national effort.

So why does it matter, why write about it?  Well, it matters to me, after all, I’m not only a big one for activism, but also volunteerism.  I guess where there’s a call or a need to help, I’m there.  I quit counting how many March of Dimes walkathons I’ve been on.  I’ve been a girl scout volunteer, not only as a troop leader but also cookie mom (don’t ask me how I got conned into that one) and recruiter for the girl scouts.  I was at one time a certified Red Cross CPR instructor, then there’s the times I’ve acted as a “hugger” (had to be a hugger, nothing less would do) for the Special Olympics events.  The weekend time at the orphanage in Korea, fundraising coordinator for the United Way, blood drive coordinator, organized a few Toys for Tots events, a toy drive for Katrina victims, and the list goes on.  Oh and now that I’m in shape, will be walking in the local Walk for the Cure for Breast Cancer. 

There’s little recognition that goes with volunteerism, and we do it, not for the recognition but for the ability to help others and how it makes us feel.  So since it’s not done for recognition, why write about it?  Perhaps to offset the negativity that is so often seen in the national media.  Perhaps to remind us that integrity in sports on the field and off the field still exists.  For this reason, I’ll be featuring a Wednesday blog extolling the virtues of past and present sports personalities and their charitable works and volunteerism.  It deserves to come off the back pages, it deserves to be recognized.  It’s not something new.  The Fedex Air and Ground Awards gives contributions to the players favorite charities, as does other awards in sports.  Of course, I am not in a financial position to give out large (or even small) checks to every charity or cause, but I am in the position to give my thank you to these individuals (even if they don’t read them).  This is my thank you to them.

Next Week:  A former Baltimore Raven and current Raven front office person and his struggles with ALS,  a former Pittsburgh Steeler and his haven for abused and neglected boys,  A former LA Laker and his efforts to fight HIV/AIDS.

Comments

Since: Sep 9, 2006
Posted on: April 3, 2008 10:53 am
 

People Who Care

redawnt1,

I think I need valium this morning, otherwise I'm doing fine...good morning..   It's a good thing that the kids keep you on yoru toes, keeps you young.  :)




Since: Dec 18, 2006
Posted on: April 3, 2008 10:16 am
 

People Who Care

Isn't that the truth, if it's not school, it's something else that they're involved in and there's always a need for some help there.

Good morning mom, you are so correct, yes these kids are always finding something to get involved in, and that pretty much keeps me on on my toes and keeps me going. It's a non stop thing. I hope your mornings going well.  I woke up late this morning, and I still feel drained. Got to hurry and have some caffeine.




Since: Sep 9, 2006
Posted on: April 2, 2008 7:34 pm
 

People Who Care

 I get involved in quite a few things myself. My kids make sure I do. It is always something with the kids. It never ends.

Isn't that the truth, if it's not school, it's something else that they're involved in and there's always a need for some help there.

I guess what I meant was that there seemed to be a misconception, that there is less empathy based on environment and more of the way that we've been raised.  Best example would be my cousins, night and day.  No empathy for anyone, they  just seemed to be worried about themselves.  Their parents had none either.  I think we have to be taught at a young age what humility is, same for respect.  If we have these instilled in ourselves when we are young then I think we're more capable of being able to reach out to others when they 're in need help. 

Have fun with your little ones tonight.




Since: Dec 18, 2006
Posted on: April 2, 2008 7:18 pm
 

People Who Care

Yes, Warrick Dunn does alot in the community especially helping single parents such as myself with kids in need.  He's such a humble man.  Maybe you did grow up in a white middle class household, but you still have a heart to help others, and that shows you really care, and that is what really matters. I for one grew up on the other side, in a poor black enviroment but that does not make me any different than yourself. I get involved in quite a few things myself. My kids make sure I do. It is always something with the kids. It never ends.

Keep the blogs coming. I always read them, I may not respond to them all but I like reading them. Now I must tend to these little raskels of mine and fix dinner.  

 




Since: Sep 9, 2006
Posted on: April 2, 2008 6:22 pm
 

People Who Care

Thanks redawnt1,

I'm not sure if it's a need or just the way I was raised.  For the first 11 years of my life, I was raised in a white, middle class household.  Nothing really humbling about that, however, even as young kids we were out singing Christmas caroles to collect money for the local childrens hospital.  My girl scout troop was always involved in the VFW poppy drive.  As a teenager I was a volunteer at one of the local hospitals and active in fund raisers with the student counsel.  I get involved in many causes, some (like the Toys for Tots and other christmas present drives for children) because as a divorced mother, there was a time I could only afford books for my daughter for Christmas, and of course, the Walk for the Cure because I lost a great aunt to breast cancer.

But you're correct as far as having been there to experience it and have empathy for the cause.  Alot of athletes give back to childrens programs or other causes because they've been in that neighborhood, or perhaps around that environment.  Look at Warrick Dunn.  Best example of what his childhood experiences compelled him to do. 

Thanks again for your kind words.




Since: Dec 18, 2006
Posted on: April 2, 2008 5:09 pm
 

People Who Care

Great blog mom. I must admit that we as people do tend to feed off the negativity that surrounds us, and not focus on the positive that happens also. Sometimes the integrity of the game is forgotten, but as you have said, it is not always the integrity

on the field that counts, but off the field integrity counts just as much. I think people must first be humbled and have it in their hearts to help others around them, otherwise they will never see the need that others may have. I can see that you have this need of helping others all around you, just in reading your blog, and that is very important. Other people due matter, and sometimes they need to know that someone cares about whatever it is they are going through or whatever it is they have to encounter.

<o:p> </o:p>

Beautifully written.

 




Since: Sep 9, 2006
Posted on: April 2, 2008 10:50 am
 

People Who Care

Unitas,

Well no, you really didn't go off on a tangent.  People stepped up to provide this young man the opportunity to participate in the marching man and gave back not only to the family but also to the school, so it's still community service.  I just think it would be great to have a blog about truly inspirational people :).




Since: Sep 27, 2006
Posted on: April 2, 2008 10:31 am
 

People Who Care

I guess I did go off on a tanget, of sorts.

In Indy, there are several guys who stand out as great public citizens.

Peyton Manning has a wing of a children's hospital named after him. Nobody spends time in the community, working with inner city youth, more than Bob Sanders. He and some of the other Colts do a great job of giving back. They are genuine in their love for disadvantaged kids.

While I am sure he will be gone soon, Jermaine O'Neal has been the same for the Pacers. He has spent countless hours working with kids. While our NBA franchise has become noted for its thuggery, Jermaine is a wonderful reminder of what can be.

What would be wonderful is a representative of each major sport city checking onto this blog with an example of someone who shows they care in a tangible way.

Take care.




Since: Sep 9, 2006
Posted on: April 2, 2008 10:03 am
 

People Who Care

Unitas,

ESPN at times has impressed with some of the stories they've done that were inspirational.  I'll have to read about Patrick Henry Hughes.  Of course, you can always start a blog on inspirational people, I think it would be great...you would do it justice.




Since: Sep 27, 2006
Posted on: April 2, 2008 9:39 am
 

People Who Care

Well written as always mom....

A young man who captured my fancy a couple of years ago, when ESPN did a special story on him, is Patrick Henry Hughes. He is the kid who was born without eyes, and can't walk. Even with this disability, he is a musical marvel.

Upon his enrollment at the University of Louisville, he was invited to be in the marching band. While riding in his wheelchair, his dad pushes him around in formation. Of course, Patrick Henry takes great care of his trumpet while dad is pushing.

His family was also the recipient of a Total Makeover on ABC a few weeks ago. They also completely reworked the practice facility for the UL band.

This kid is such an inspiration. So is his family. They are the quintisential 'making lemonade out of lemons' family. If you Google Patrick Henry Hughes, you can see the original ESPN story, and there are other pieces on there, too.

Take care.



The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com