“Family” ties!

On the TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS April 14, 2014 #484 Up next…”Family” ties!

After further review…In his “Hierarchy of Needs” theory the influential psychologist Abraham Maslow lists belonging as an important element in successful human development. Duty to family can provide that. Growing up with parents who were role models and mentors, my siblings and I were fortunate. We didn’t choose our parents – no one does. But we respected their duty to us and never wanted to commit an act that would embarrass them. The love and belongingness was there.

When we read/hear of some athletes whose behavior is less than honorable, even to the point of felony arrests, we have to wonder if love and belongingness were absent.  DeSean Jackson and Richard Sherman – elite professional athletes –are currently in the news, due to alleged influence of gang relationships in each of their pasts. They are cited here not to cast aspersions, but simply to examine how we strive for belonging, and how those choices may affect us.

Sherman, a Stanford graduate and now a cornerback for the NFL Super Bowl XVLII champion Seattle Seahawks, was born and raised in Compton, California, an area well known for its gang turf battles. Jackson, a standout receiver both in college (Cal Berkeley) and the NFL (Philadelphia Eagles), was raised by Gayle and Bill Jackson in Long Beach, California. Bill coached both athletes in youth leagues, and their relationship continued through the years; both describe themselves as proud citizens of their challenged communities.

The Eagles recently released Jackson, citing “gang ties” in the announcement. (Note: Jackson was quickly signed by the Washington Redskins). While Sherman and Jackson have each earned a reputation for “flamboyant” on-field behaviors, both have capabilities to be positive NFL role models. Sherman, for example, was salutatorian of his high school senior class in Compton. Can we sense the need to “belong” here?

While going to college and playing in the NFL creates a natural distance, Sherman defends Jackson’s ties: “the men with DeSean in the (recent) social pictures and police reports weren’t his closest friends in childhood, but when his father died in 2009, few people were there for him. When a tragic event like that happens, the people who are around are the people who are around, and they were there for him.”

Having spent my early teaching and coaching career (13 years) in an East Los Angeles high school with five active gangs in the community, I saw clearly that young boys and girls found love and belonging in a gang environment. Negativism became their family and way of life. We must help those so influenced to show them a better way.

Will you offer your love and belonging to those who are trying to overcome negative environments?

To contact Jim go to jimtunney.com or email him jim@jimtunney.com.                                                     Jim’s book “101 Best of Tunney Side of Sports” is available at tunneysideofsports.com/here


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