Monday, May 14, 2007

Good Guys Do Charity?

Paul Attner of The Sporting News has proposed an interesting concept. That the so-called "good" guys of the of NFL take on the extra burden of mentoring the so-called "bad" guys of the NFL. Surprise. Attner identifies the good guys as guys like Tiki Barber and Marshall Faulk. The bad guys are Pacman Jones, Randy Moss, Terrell Owens and the other usual suspects. Attner proposes that the good guys shepherd the bad guys. He specifically proposes that the good guys educate the bad guys on the benefit of charitable activities. Because that will make everything better.

What the league needs, though, is for more of these good people to become even better guys. That means they need to figure out how they can influence their communities in a more positive way. These men have an extraordinary ability to bring happiness to those less fortunate; it's a power of giving that not enough of them are willing to exercise. They either don't understand the level of beneficent effect they can produce or they are unwilling to commit to helping make their world a brighter place.

Attner has a interesting idea. But there is a critical flaw in his argument. Charity can not be the miracle cure for the bad guys given that many of the bad guys already do charity. I'm not sure if Attner considered the possibility that people can be good and bad at the same time. Presumably, you can only be one way or the other. There is no "gray." Tiki Barber is good, no matter that he does lose his temper sometimes. Terrell Owens is bad, no matter that he does run a foundation dedicated to Alzheimer's research. Like many others in the media, Attner is limited to narrowly categorizing people.

And possibly, Attner is just ignorant about the people the media chooses to regularly pillory. That circumstance wouldn't make him unique among the media either.

There is no proof that Kurt Warner does more hospital visits than Randy Moss. Nor does it matter, because there is not an absolute correlation between the amount of charity an athlete actually does and the public perception of whether he is "good" or "bad."

If writers like Attner are tired of "bad" guys, then experiment picturing those villains as good guys - or even better, regular guys. Even Pacman Jones and Tank Johnson have good qualities. Limiting athletes to narrow labels such as "good" and "bad" don't do much to advance discourse, analysis or the obsession with athletes as role models. I bet it wouldn't be hard to find people whose life has been positively impacted by the scourge of the NFL.

Yes, certain athletes, in fact, do bad things. That doesn't necessarily make them all bad people. But, if for you, it turns solely on how much charity they do (or how many press releases emerge tauting said charity), you may never be convinced of that. If you are more comfortable with boxes and labels, so be it. But actual understanding may elude you.

1 comment:

doublenicks said...

Brillaint research by Attner. If he'd even lifted a finger I'm sure he would have found charitable contributions by Owens and Moss. Maybe he should get into blogging where you are required to do pesky little things like back up your argument (even though the good ones do).