With so many of his players – relatively speaking – accused of domestic violence and/or child abuse, you would think that Roger Goodell would have a lot to say on these matters.
Instead, he’s been pretty much silent.
“It really is sad, isn’t it?” EvenField.org founder Chuck Wilson said on The MoJo Show. “It’s such a reflection of where we are as a society and how blind we can be to some serious issues. We clearly haven’t taken domestic violence, sexual abuse, child abuse, abusive parenting, abuse to the elderly – we just don’t take any of these issues seriously enough. In an age in which we see video of the acts, maybe that’s going to be the thing that changes our collective response.”
Maybe, maybe not.
“I just can’t imagine anybody looking at the video of Ray Rice and not (realizing) just how serious that is and (thinking) that a two-game suspension was taking it seriously,” Wilson said. “It really is an amazing thing to see such a lack of realization of how serious something is. But I just don’t blame the NFL. Everybody’s all over the NFL. Hey, our society, it’s about time we took this really seriously – and we haven’t.
“Now, that doesn’t take the NFL off the hook,” Wilson continued, “because what we want is we want sports to lead. And here’s an opportunity to have really been able to lead, and it was just a missed opportunity. If Roger Goodell could do it all over again, he certainly would do it a lot different.”
But why do we want sports to lead? Why do we rely on sports for such a huge responsibility?
“We want sports to lead because it is one of the areas in which it pulls everybody together,” Wilson said. “It has such an impact in our society of bringing people together. It brings parents and kids together. It brings races, it brings ethnicities, it brings genders – it doesn’t matter. It brings people together through a common love of a sport (or) team.”
And in a way, that is what EvenField.org is all about. The non-profit seeks to cultivate an environment of ethics and integrity and eliminating the win-at-all-costs mindset.
“We’re trying to teach the next generation that the way you win matters,” Wilson said. “The way you compete, reach goals, do everything else in life – it matters. It matters because it shows your character and (whether) you’re a person others can trust. It does that.”
Youth sports, Wilson said, should not be about outcomes; they should be about teachable moments.
“We obsess over the outcome of games,” he said, “and with preteen athletes, the whole approach needs to be different from what we’re doing right now. Sports at that age is more about life lessons than it is about game scores. Nobody’s going to remember what their record was in their fifth- or sixth-grade travel team. What they are going to remember is the lessons they learned, the relationships that they formed and the character opportunities (they had) – how to face adversity, winning and losing, teamwork and collaboration, and all these other things you can get through team sports if it’s played the right way.”