What’s going on at college campuses where athletes feel like it’s okay to put their hands on people? Every year there’s a parade of shame featuring young men who were once among the best athletes in the nation but have their family names dragged through the mud for failing to show restraint?
Most parents of athletes are convinced that athletics are a great character builder for children because it teaches camaraderie, teamwork, sportsmanship and values. That’s why they’re signing tiny tikes up to play football, basketball and baseball as young as 5-years-old. But what appears to go missing somewhere along the line is humility and respect. Not only respect for other human beings but respect for their own station in life.
One false step can ruin everything.
Like it or not, athletes are held in very high regard on every level they participate on. Indeed, it’s easy to see why some athletes wind up being egomaniacal monstrosities by the time they’re in high school. But if the annual parade of sports figures accused, charged and convicted of putting their hands on individuals tells us anything it’s that any program designed to educate collegiate athletes on how to conduct themselves is actually far too late.
It should have been made a priority in the individuals’ respective households prior to high school, or even junior high school. Now, here we go with another young Black student athlete being raked across the coals for a violent incident involving a woman. Once again, the media and general public are engaged in conversations about the upbringing of African American males, and once again many in the majority lead themselves to conclusions that are either elitist, racist, class-ist or xenophobic regarding the temperament of young Black men. Truth be told this shouldn't be a referendum on all Black men.
Just this Black man.
Watching the video we see how it all went down. 19-year-old DeAndre Johnson was in an establishment in which alcoholic beverages were being sold, an establishment where he should not have been seeing as though he isn’t 21-years-old, and we see a young woman rudely push past him to get to the bar. Words are exchanged and she raises her first and he attempts to restrain her. At this point the proper rules of engagement for a young man with so much to lose would have been to retreat and simply let her bark obscenities at him from a distance. However, he continues to exchange words and she strikes him, and he immediately strikes her back. And it was a solid, strong punch at that.
The immediacy of his counterstrike shows that it was instinct rather than premeditated, but that's no excuse. How many of our readership grew up in households in which your Father would tell you "You never hit a woman" and your Mother would say ‘Don’t let nobody put their hands on you. They hit you, you hit them right back.’ But what many mothers fail to offer is the necessary caveat pertaining to girls and women. That caveat being; the average woman is smaller than the average man, therefore a fight against a female is not only wrong in and of itself barring a life threatening situation, but morally reprehensible as well.
Even scrolling through social media can cause one to shake his or her head as grown-ass-men can be seen saying ‘But she hit him first’ and I’m like ‘Dude, that punch was so soft as to be comparable to a gnat sneezing.’ Yes, I agree she should have kept her hands to herself. But, given the situation, who has more to lose?
Part of being able to reach one’s maximum potential in this mad, mad world is being able to quickly discern those junctures in life where a wrong decision could derail all of your hopes and dreams. Your pride simply isn’t worth it. A damn shame on several levels.
Although it was created as a comedy sketch, Dave Chappelle's "When keeping it real goes wrong" teaches an important lesson and does have great significance in reality, and this is one of those situations in which being real is wrong. A few "ooohs!" from other guys in the room pale in comparison to the repercussions DeAndre is now facing, and to be honest, it simply isn't worth it to react in that situation; the DeAndres of the world will always lose.
Then there are those that justify his retaliation by mentioning that witnesses say the woman in question called him the n-word to which I say ‘if being called a name, any name, makes you start swinging at people who can’t really defend themselves then I wouldn’t want him in my program anyway. It’s indicative of a lack of mental toughness.”
As expected after the chaos resulting from the Jameis Winston years, Florida State University head football coach Jimbo Fischer dismissed him from the Seminoles' program expeditiously.
I hope he gets a second chance in a much smaller football environment because the scrutiny of transferring to another big time program would be a lot to ask. But, in the end, football is the last thing he should be worried about. Going on to live a productive life is.