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If I had millions of dollars would I host dog fights?

July 24, 2009
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I have always wondered why people who have all the money that I could only dream of making, often time choose the most ridiculous ways to spend their time.  Hosting dog fights, going to strip clubs and “making it rain”, cheating on your wife, drinking and driving, and going into the stands to fight drunk fans are just a few of the things I would NOT do if I just inked a contract that would pay me more money than I would ever need.   It doesn’t help that most of these athletes are going from no money to too much money in a matter of hours (1st round signing bonuses now in the tens if millions of dollars).  However, at twenty years-old, does all of your common sense go out the window?

When I was twenty, I was nowhere near as smart, experienced, adjusted, or mature as I am now but I wasn’t a total moron.  If I had say, won the lottery, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have called my local farm and ordered some chickens to start an elicit cock-fighting operation.  I wouldn’t have gone to my local jeweler and purchased a diamond crusted “ADAY” to hang around my neck.  Most definitely, I wouldn’t have downed a bottle of Crown Royal and hopped into my car to drive home.  Why, then to these athletes who are called to make smart, split-second decisions on the field make such lousy choices off of it?

I think that we can first point to role models.  Look at some of the established stars that the young people of America have to look up to.  Terrell Owens has a reality show that celebrates the fact that he is a 35 year-old child.  Eminem spends most of his songs lashing out violent, drug-popping, women beating lyrics and he is seen as an icon.  Ron Artest gets signed by the Lakers and (with all thoughts on his violent past) says he wants to bring more “thuggery” to Los Angeles.

When I was growing up, I thought being a thug was something that one tried to avoid.  The life of a thug was something that I was given skills to avoid at home and at school.  I went to school and graduated to not have to live like a thug.  Thugs have always been people who lacked the skills, resources, and money to be anything else.  Why, then, at the top of the athletic food-chain, is it such a celebrated thing to be a thug?

Don’t get me wrong.  All of these people are tremendously talented and bring a lot to their respective activities.  They are uber talented and have had success in their fields.  But what happened to the most important thing being success in life?  What happened to people taking care of their personal lives first, then worrying about their professional lives?

Here lies the core of the problem.  Many of the elite athletes have been contacted by agents and business men since junior high.  Money has been the light and the end of the tunnel for years.  So, when then get to the age where the money is about to manifest, they lose perspective.   Young athletes are so concerned with their reputation, money making, and acceptance that they neglect the responsibilities that they have to themselves an their families.  They put aside the basic functions of someone existing in society to live the life that is fast and furious.  They want the house on MTV Cribs.  They glamorize the life of “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll” (or rap)  that has been so prevalent in our society.

The problem with twenty year old young men getting money is not that they are not smart enough to deal with it in a responsible manner.  The problem is that they live in a culture that tells them that when you have money, you flaunt it, you spend it, and you don’t have to answer to anyone.  When I was twenty years old, not having to answer to anyone seemed pretty appealing.

So what do we say to a young man who gets drafted and is preparing to sign a multi-million dollar deal?  Hopefully, there are people out there in the community who can reach out to young athletes and offer proper perspective.  Many pro sports require athletes to attend orientations where they are warned of the dangers of being a professional athlete.

For me, I would require every new pro athlete be required to hear the story of Len Bias.  The University of Maryland all-american basketball player who had been working his whole life to make the NBA.  The night of the 1986 draft he was selected 2nd overall by the Boston Celtics.  This was a guy who was compared, favorably, to Michael Jordan.  Did he go to several all-star games?  Was he an all-NBA player who led the Celts to the finals?  Unfortunately, no.  The night he was drafted, Len Bias decided to celebrate the draft in style with some friends and members of the UM football team.  This high society celebration included booze and cocaine.  The excess caused cardiac arrhythmia.  Less than 8 hours after he was drafted and before he could sign his first contract, LenBias was dead.

Money comes and goes.  Fame is, at best, fleeting.  Friends you make after you make money usually have an agenda.  Life is fragile.  These basic ideas should cross the minds of young men preparing to enter their professional careers.   Men who enter at the penthouse, not like the rest of us who can barely make the studio apartment payments.  If this were the perspective that our big stars held then maybe we would open ESPN more with accomplishments on the field instead of the tales of woe from off of it.

As always, feel free to email me

This is another Aday on Sports

One Comment leave one →
  1. Mark permalink
    July 27, 2009 7:18 pm

    Totally agree. What do you think of teh Mike Vick situation? Should he be reinstated? Just another example of sometimes being able to take the boy out of the hood but never taking the hood out of the boy.

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