bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: Adrian Peterson indicted on child abuse charges

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We are now two weeks into the NFL season, and much of the coverage continues to be about non-football issues, much to the league’s chagrin. Off-the-field issues are dominating the airwaves, and understandably so. Hot on the heels of the whole Ray Rice/domestic violence mess, Adrian Peterson, one of the league’s biggest stars, has been charged with child abuse.

A grand jury in Texas indicted Peterson on Friday for beating his son with a switch as a form of punishment. Photos showed cuts and bruises all over the child’s legs and backside from the incident. He was deactivated by the Minnesota Vikings for their game against the New England Patriots on Sunday. Reports came out on Monday that Peterson had been briefly investigated a year ago for some injuries that had occurred to another one of his children. No charges were filed. Unlike the Ray Rice incident, which found most of the public on the same side of the issue, the people seem quite divided on the subject of Peterson’s treatment of his child. No one seems overly strong in support of the visible injuries the kid suffered, but many seem fully behind the type of discipline employed by the running back. Personally, I could not be more opposed to it.

Most of the comments I have heard revolve around the fact that Peterson, like many others, was “whipped” as a child when he was bad. Whipping apparently can go well beyond traditional spanking to something far more akin to actual whipping, like numerous lashes with a wooden stick. The supporters seem to either believe that this sort of discipline is not only okay but necessary, or they simply state that it’s a cultural thing among African-American families from the South. It may be a cultural thing, but that is absolutely no reason to excuse this behavior. Maybe Ray Rice saw plenty of men abusing women in his life, but I don’t see people suggesting that the exposure to that makes it okay for him to knock his fiancee unconscious. Yes, there are a lot of reasons that people do what they do. Sociologists, who know a whole lot more about this stuff than I do, have written many tomes on the cycles of behavior within communities. None of it means that it’s okay to continue that practice.

I know plenty of people who feel that corporal punishment is necessary when raising children. I completely disagree. I have two grown children and one toddler, and I have never laid a hand on any of them. The older ones learned discipline despite the fact that a human being several times larger than them never resorted to physical violence to teach it to them. The younger one is still a work in progress, of course, but he will learn the same way. On sports messageboards, where I have seen a lot of discussion of this in the last few days, I have seen a whole lot of macho crap where people flex their internet muscles by mocking parents who refuse to beat their children. These are generally the same people who felt that Jonathan Martin, the offensive lineman from the Miami Dolphins who was the target of locker room bullying by Richie Incognito, among others, last year, needed to “suck it up” and “be a man, not a crybaby.”

The National Football League, and Roger Goodell, more specifically, are in a really bad place here. Child abuse is an extremely serious subject with a lot of people very willing to speak out against it. The Minnesota Vikings are on shaky ground as well. The team reinstated Peterson on Monday, saying he would play this upcoming weekend. Radisson, a sponsor of the Vikings, suspended its sponsorship in the wake of the reinstatement. On Tuesday, Anheuser-Busch, certainly the largest and most influential sponsorship the NFL has, put out a statement saying that it is very unhappy about the recent spate of events and made it clear that something needs to change and quickly. Money talks louder than anything else, of course, and the league’s owners are certain to push Goodell to make some kind of definitive move in order to prevent an economic catastrophe. I wish the detestable behavior itself were enough to spur on that kind of action, but I guess it’ll have to do.

Bad sports, continued:

2) The Ray Rice saga keeps getting worse, both for Rice himself and for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. The calls for Goodell to resign have gotten increasingly louder since last week’s release of the video of Rice knocking out his then-fiancee in a Vegas elevator. This was handled extremely poorly by the NFL, and many think Goodell should lose his job as a result. Now, Rice, who was released by the Baltimore Ravens and then suspended indefinitely by the NFL last week, plans to appeal his suspension. I don’t know that any team would be willing to sign him anyway, but appealing and allowing this to continue to be front page news is not going to help him any.

3) Miami Marlins star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton was hit in the face by a pitch thrown by Mike Fiers of the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday. He suffered multiple fractures and lacerations and is likely to miss the rest of the season. There goes my fantasy team.

4) Oops. At the beginning of the UCLA-Texas game on Saturday, UCLA won the coin toss. They elected to defer, meaning that they could choose whether to kick or receive the kickoff after halftime. When this happens, the other team chooses to receive the opening kick virtually 100% of the time. Texas had other ideas, apparently. The team captains chose to kick off to start the game, despite the fact that they were absolutely going to end up kicking off to start the second half too. In other words, they would get one fewer possession in the game than they would have otherwise gotten. They lost, 20-17.

5) Robert Griffin III has not had the career most expected him to have up to this point. He had a great rookie year after being drafted second overall in 2012 by the Washington Redskins. He tore his ACL late in that season, and despite what appeared to be a fast recovery, was not the same player in 2013. Kirk Cousins, who was also drafted in 2012 by the Redskins, played well in Griffin’s absence in late 2012 and during the 2013 season. Some people have suggested that the team would be better off with Cousins than with Griffin at the controls. On Sunday, Griffin dislocated his ankle early in the team’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Cousins came in and led his team to a dominating win. That won’t help Griffin’s argument to continue to start once he returns from yet another injury.

6) Confusion on the sideline of the New York Jets late in their game against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday may have lost them the game. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg was yelling for a timeout and it was granted by the closest referee just as a play was starting. The play went for a touchdown, but the score did not count due to the timeout. The rules say that only the head coach can call a timeout from the sideline, but the ref’s confusion was understandable. The Jets went on to lose the game by a touchdown.

7) The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were losing to the St. Louis Rams by two points as time was running out on Sunday. A deep completion got them into field goal range with twenty seconds remaining in the game. Since they had already used all of their timeouts, they had to run a spike play to kill the clock with less than ten seconds to go. Receiver Mike Evans went down hurt on the field after the spike, which caused the officials to have to automatically run ten seconds off of the clock due to a rule that was put in place to prevent players from faking injury to stop the clock late in games. Since there were fewer than ten seconds remaining, the game ended with no field goal attempted.

Good sports:

1) The U.S. won the basketball World Cup on Sunday, crushing Serbia by a score of 129-92. They breezed through the whole tournament with ease, despite criticisms that the top NBA stars were not participating.

2) There were several upsets in college football this weekend, and the biggest one was unheralded Boston College beating #9 Southern Cal, 37-31. The Eagles fell behind early but then dominated most of the rest of the game.

Bad sports, good sports appears early each week

Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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