Can Civility Be Legislated?

On the TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS March 10, 2014 #479 Can Civility Be Legislated?

After further review…Civility – ci-vil-i-ty (noun) — is defined as polite, reasonable and respectful behavior. That certainly sounds like a temperate way for people to live their lives. The National Football League is attempting to legislate-out the use of the “N-“ word among its players. Do we need a rule to legislate civility?

Having been on the NFL field for more than 3-decades it was evident that the “N-“ word was used between players, many of whom are African-American (and for the purposes here the Tunney Side will use the term Black). Digressing, it must be said that in my family, the “N-“ word was not even thought of— let alone used. My father was a high school football coach who had the privilege of coaching Kenny Washington, the first Black NFL player in the post World War II era. We were taught that respect and civility was for all people.

Granted, many NFL players, as well as those in other professional sports, did not have the privilege of guidance by parents who taught that civility means to treat others the way you want to be treated. But that doesn’t mean when people become adults they can’t adjust their behavior to model a respectful type of conduct.

It has been said that some Black players use the “N-“ word as a “term of endearment”– too often ignoring its origin. The Academy Award Oscar winner “12 Years A Slave” which was awarded the best picture of 2013 clearly pointed out how cruel the “N-“ word was used in the treatment of Blacks. While this country has matured in its concern for minorities, we must go much farther in teaching all people how important it is to eliminate disrespectful words from their vocabulary.

Football, by its nature, is a physically and emotionally demanding game, maybe even described as survival of the fittest, but it doesn’t have to be demeaning. The former San Francisco 49er and Hall of Famer, Ronnie Lott, who was a hard-hitting defensive back, said “NFL football is a gentlemen’s game”.  By that Lott meant one needs to play hard in a tough game, but not unfairly- either physically or verbally. Can we extend that to mean that “trash talk” should also be eliminated in sports?

Will you log-in your concerns for the elimination of the “N-“ word?

To contact Jim go to jimtunney.com or email him at jim@jimtunney.com.

For Jim’s new book “101 Best of Tunney Side of Sports” go to jimtunney.com & click on “store”


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