Thursday, February 11, 2010

Man Up Manning

C'mon Peyton, you've been in the game of football long enough to know that it is only good sportsmanship and customary to congratulate the winning team members or at best shake hands with them and say "Good game." We witnessed the same juvenile behavior from Lebron James at the end of the National Basketball Association (NBA)championship game. (see It's Only a Game Folks)

Just as with the James incident the Manning incident is magnified because of the star status of these two men. These are the guys who have been placed on pedestals because of their athletic prowess. It would be wrong regardless of who did not display good sportsmanship, but it really gets magnified with a big name in a big game, i.e. James-NBA Finals; Manning- Superbowl. While the role model debate always crops up in these situations, the fact of the matter is, we are all role models whether we like it or not. Children watch, and as sassy and smart mouthed as many of them can be today, they would have no problem with not shaking an opponents hand after a game and then nastily telling the coach "Well Peyton Manning didn't shake hands after the Super Bowl or Lebron James didn't shake hands after the NBA Finals and neither am I." This applies to even the eight year olds in the Pop Warner leagues. Oh yes, I can see that happening. As the principal of an elementary school, I had an incident where at the end of a basketball game one of the cheerleaders from the opposing school came up to me and informed me that the cheerleaders from my school would not shake their hands. Our cheerleaders had already made their way to the locker room and I called each one back out and had them shake the opposing cheerleaders hands. Let's get real, when all is said and done, it is only a game.

What makes it even worse is that Peyton Manning is portrayed as Mr. America; Mr. Purebread (male version of Polly Purebread for those of you who are cartoon buffs); The Great White Hope,etc. etc. etc. Kids are actually encouraged to look up to him. I was actually rooting for the Colts in the Superbowl because of Coach Jim Caldwell's deep faith in God and his not being shy to share his faith even during his myriad interviews. I also counted on Peyton Manning's experience to be a factor. When the game was over and I had to face all of my friends who were cheering for the Saints, I could not help but to admit that the Saints played an excellent game. The Saints played as if they wanted to win and they did. That's all Peyton had to do was let some of the Saints players know that it was a good game and go on into the locker room. Calling Drew Brees later does not cut it because the cameras aren't there to catch that phone call. If the situation had been reversed everyone would have been questioning how could they do that to "Peyton Manning?"

I am not suggesting that these guys ought to be perfect; however, they need to always be mindful that people are watching their every move. 106 million households were watching; the largest audience in television history, so I don't think that was the time to throw a temper tantrum. Oh well something else to critically think about.

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