I am going to get grief for this, but what I have to say needs to be said. So at the outset, I will be clear rather than artful. My use of the word anthropomorphism is not intended to imply that individuals under discussion are not human beings. Rather, my intention is to point out the flawed thinking of many who write about current events to project decent human motives onto the actions of some sports figures, and others, whose behaviors insult their own humanity, or that of those around them.
Like many people, I am a sucker for a sob story. Who doesn’t love to read about the ballplayer who is taking care of his down syndrome addled child, or the quarterback who finishes the game hours after his father passes away, dedicating the game to his memory. Such stories celebrate the human spirit and underscore the best of what we can be.
But far too often, lazy or headline seeking writers play with our heart strings hoping that we will fall for the superficiality of their yarn, in the expectation that we will project our own humanity onto a story that is anything but.
For days, recently, we were peppered with stories about how NFL MVP Adrian Peterson was riddled with anguish over the death of his 2 year old son, who was allegedly murdered by the boyfriend of his “baby mama.” We were plied with the report that Peterson uttered the phrase “Let’s roll,” as he heroically decided play the next football game. Todd Beamer must be rolling in his grave, instead.
As time has passed, it has come out that Adrian Peterson may not have even known that the murdered child was his; and if indeed he did, as Phil Mushnick noted in the New York Post, “how could Peterson have allowed his son to remain in such an environment?” Mushnick, a sports media critic who may well be the most honest, forthright and fearless scribe in local journalism on any topic, noted that Peterson signed a $96 million contract, and that the man who allegedly killed his son had been previously charged with domestic assault and abuse.
The sports world tried to make a saint out of this guy!
For sure, this kind of thing is not limited to football, or just the sports world. The late great Steve Jobs did not accept for quite a while, according to a new book by his ex-girl friend, that his first child born out of wedlock was, indeed, his. Even Larry Bird, the basketball icon, was said to have not warmed up to his accidental child very quickly. There are baby mamas everywhere, and if there is a tally at the end of time, an awful lot of fathers have a lot to answer for.
But let’s stay on the subject of bad stories and writers looking to squeeze a tear out of our eyes. How often do you see a story in one of the tabloids in which some gangbanger who never sees his kid, is helpless with grief over the death of his baby mama or child? Often, the writer throws in how the couple was planning to marry one day. Sometimes there is a photo of the allegedly stricken dad, copied from a cell phone ipg, in which papa dearest is resplendent in his gang colors and a snarl.
We men have a lot to answer for. But so do writers who try to play us.