The NFL has made head injury prevention a priority this year. They have increased the penalties on players making rough hits and they have stated that players diagnosed with a concussion have to sit out the rest of the game. These measures are great steps at rectifying what had become an increasingly dangerous game to play.
Regarding its reputation and image, one area in which the NFL doesn’t like to mention is infidelity. And it’s a big problem in pro sports.
I’m not suggesting that the NFL investigate the lives of their athletes. That approach would never work. (The only reason the NFL is investigating the Brett Favre allegations is because the woman in question was a fellow employee at the time –thus it became a workplace issue). But perhaps the NFL and the other leagues could provide better advice to their athletes on how to deal with the temptations of fame and money.
ESPN published a story on the topic of infidelity in sports and it’s worth reading. I have to say I became even less interested in giving away my Sunday afternoons after reading this story.
Here’s how one athlete deals with the issue:
Some pledge not to get married while they are playing simply because of the temptations, and because they have seen how marriages and infidelity can complicate careers.
“A lot of coaches and players have a lot of distractions at home, and it will cause them not to play well,” says Bryant McKinnie, an unmarried left tackle for the Minnesota Vikings. “At the rookie symposium, we learned that 75 percent of NFL marriages end with divorce within two to three years after retirement. And that’s just something that’s always been on my mind.”
Seventy-five percent! That’s terrible!
I hope they aren’t only telling rookies this horrific statistic. I don’t deny that it’s true nor should they neglect to tell them about the danger. But after hearing something like that, I’m not surprised that athletes are deciding against marriage until after they retire.
The league should consider spending some of its resources on fostering a more marriage-friendly climate. Interview coaches, former athletes and wives — develop some recommendations. This is something that merits study. I’m not condemning Bryant McKinnie. But there’s got to be some better options.
In sports we tend to focus on the long-term effects of a head injury. But let’s not forget about the real impact of broken relationships as well.