I was watching Dhani Tackles the Globe last night. It’s that show on the Travel Channel where Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Dhani Jones goes around the world and explores the different cultures that the world has to offer.
Don’t ask me why I was watching it; it was just another one of those nights.
Anyway, yesterday he was in Spain and was being introduced to jai alai, which can widely be considered as Spain’s national sport. Jai alai is like a combination of tennis, handball, and baseball.
Players equipped with just a cesta (equivalent to a baseball glove with a goatskin lacrosse stick attached) and a helmet have to catch and throw a pelota (Spanish for baseball) at the wall and catch it either without or only on one bounce. The ball can be thrown close to 200 miles per hour.
No, that’s not a typo. 200 miles per hour.
But what does that have to do with the title? Well, after seeing an example of how fast the ball can go when his host hurled it, Jones promptly blurted a very common phrase: “Oh, ****!!”
And for some reason, it got me thinking: What place does profanity have in sports? Why is it so reviled on the field?
I want to make this clear, though. In the public spectrum, I do not think cursing has a place there. I believe that when push comes to shove, you need to watch your mouth. In the heat of competition, though, sometimes you can’t control it. And that, I can understand.
I’m no professional athlete, but in the heat of competition I want to win. And if I screw up, you will most likely hear one of those infamous four-letter words: ****, ****, and sometimes the really bad ******* (Did you REALLY expect me to spell them out? I know better than that!).
And this is just for me being ultra-competitive—like that kid from Staten Island in the 2006 Little League World Series (”Let’s ****** go!!”).
But for professional athletes, this is their LIFE, their LIVELIHOOD. When everything is on the line, you will not really care what you say. Every moment on the field reflects where you play, your legacy, your contracts, and your endorsements. In other words,YOUR MONEY AND HOW YOU LIVE.
But why is it such a big deal? Well, that can be attributed to the over-exposure of professional athletes on and off the field—more so on the field. ESPN puts microphones on the sidelines of basketball and football games to give you that “ESPNWired” stuff. So if you ever heard that unexpected pause in the middle of the commentary and noise, you just “heard” a four-letter word. The idea that professional athletes should be role models for children and teens is very noble and quite frankly, more professional athletes need to live their lives as such.
However, it is very unreasonable to think that the way professional athletes carry themselves has more adverse effects on young people than the direct negative influence of bad company and parenting. The burden that parents should bear should not be passed to public figures who have their OWN lives to live and families to take care of.
But that’s a debate for another day.
So if you miss that game-tying shot, strikeout swinging to end the game, or drop that game-winning pass, you have EVERY right to go *******.
I’ll let you decide what that means.