August 06, 2007

Dads - Be Your Kids Heroes

An Open Letter To:

Bud Selig - Commissioner (Major League Baseball)
David Stern - Commissioner (National Basketball Association)
Roger Goodell - Commissioner (National Football League)
Tim Finchem - Commissioner (Professional Golfers Association)


You face an unenviable task. You serve as the men in charge of the worlds most prestigious and successful sports leagues. Your influence is great and you must steward the tremendous resources that have been entrusted to you. And while doing that, you must make business decisions that most of us can’t even comprehend, grow your respective leagues in revenue and exposure, and handle public relations nightmares. Your job is not easy. Your job is not fun (at least all the time).

So I want to thank you. Thank you for providing sports entertainment to millions around the world. Thank you for helping cities to have common bonds to share. Thank you for making special moments like “The Catch”, “McGwire’s 62nd”, “Tigers Nike Putt At Augusta”, and “Showtime” possible. These are moments that I personally cherish as a sports fan, and I know my boys will cherish their own sports moments as well.

But I would also like to thank you for helping remind me that I am to be my son’s hero. Lately, each of your leagues has been tainted by all too pointed reminders that while sports are an entertaining thing, they should never become an idol. Michael Vick, Barry Bonds, Tim Donaghy, and even the great Tiger Woods have all served reminders lately that they are not role models. They are no heroes. They are not to be looked up to. They are entertainers. They are products. They are marketed, sold, spun, and held out for what you want us to see, not for what they really are. And the same is true for your leagues. There are very ugly and disgusting scenes that follow each of them and every week we are reminded why money and fame are not the answer to life’s deepest questions.

So many kids want to grow up and “Be Like Mike”. The tragedy is they want to “Be Like Mike” because dad is a loser. Dad is nowhere to be found. Dad has sold his soul and left the home to pursue his own money and fame. And the sad part is that in many ways, each of your leagues helps foster that notion. It is tearing the United States and the World apart. Dad’s who are abandoning their children. Children who have no one else to look up to, are looking at fallen, broken, men who are only on TV because they can hit/kick/shoot/catch a ball. There are so many things in the average dad to admire, unfortunately those don’t make TV. Your product does and so kids everywhere think that is what they should strive for. Unfortunately, they don’t understand the seedy and twisted world of professional sports and how hard it is to maintain your integrity and character while being a professional athlete.

There are very important lessons to be learned from sports. Hard work, teamwork, dedication, loyalty, sacrifice, etc are all lessons that I hope my boys learn on a baseball field, or on the golf course. But at the end of the day, I hope they look back and when asked who their hero was, I hope they say “JESUS”. And right after that, I hope they say “DAD”.

Sports are a good thing. But I think sometimes we make it into an idol and its players are OUR Gods. There is one true God. There is one true Savior. And He did things far more amazing than hit a ball 500 feet. I hope someday you as commissioners realize that the empires you are building are nothing compared to the kingdom that is to come. I hope each day you search your soul and your character. I hope each day you look at your own kids and display for them the truly heroic things in life.


Marc Backes

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