Wiedmer: Bad boys lacking in maturity

Wiedmer: Bad boys lacking in maturity

April 15th, 2010 by Mark Wiedmer in Sports

The quotes are too similar to ignore, even if the reasons for them are starkly different.

Said Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on the occasion of a Georgia district attorney's declining to charge him with sexual assault, "I'm truly sorry for the disappointment and negative attention I brought to my family, my teammates, coaches, the Rooneys and the NFL."

Kind of sounds like Tiger Woods' 13-minute infomercial in February, doesn't it, the one where he said of his repeated infidelities: "To those of you who work for me, I have let you down personally and professionally ... I am deeply sorry"?

But that's not all. In that same scripted apology, Woods said, "I have a lot of work to do," not two months before Roethlisberger said, "I have much work to do to earn (your) trust."

Need further proof that these guys are twin bums from different mothers? Compare the following:

Woods -- "Parents used to point to me as a role model for their kids."

Roethlisberger -- "I absolutely want to be a role model for kids."

But the far bigger issue here is what roles are being modeled by too many famous men behaving badly. What lessons are being learned? What monsters are being raised because there are too many Tigers on the prowl, too many Big Bens bullying their way through life one overmatched woman at a time?

Certainly, the cases are dissimilar. Tiger's a married man who repeatedly cheated on his wife and children with multiple willing partners. Roethlisberger's a Neanderthal who has now been accused of sexual assault twice in the past year. You half expect to hear of him bopping the next girl he meets over the head with his helmet and dragging her back to his man cave.

Still, as Ocmulgee Circuit District Attorney Fred Bright noted when asked why he decided not to prosecute Roethlisberger: "We do not prosecute morals. We prosecute crimes."

Yet the real crime here is the lesson all of this is teaching the male population.

"It's an issue that's coming up on a regular basis," said Jack Parks, the assistant director of the Crisis Resource Center at the Partnership for Family, Children and Adults (formerly Family and Children's Services).

"We need tougher laws. We also need more men to work in domestic violence shelters so they can see what's going on. It's a huge challenge, making men understand the right and wrong way to treat a woman."

Parks understands an athlete's life better than most. He played football at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, graduating in 1995. He knows the temptations, the pitfalls, the danger zones.

"We do the best we can," he said. "But we need more representation from athletes. You never hear a famous athlete stepping up against domestic violence. It would be a huge help if a Tennessee Titan, or an Atlanta Brave, someone like that would become a national voice against violence to women."

It's not only violence, of course. There's no hint of violence or abuse where Tiger was concerned, other than the emotional abuse suffered by his wife.

"Tiger had a flaw, a breakdown of character," said Carey Casey, a former chaplain to both the Kansas City Chiefs and Dallas Cowboys of the NFL. "We all know what character is -- it's what we do when no one's looking. Even if a person is not a Christian, there's a certain moral compass we should all live by. Men like Tiger should set the standard, take more responsibility, not less."

Here are some numbers all men should consider, according to Casey, who now heads the Kansas City-based National Center for Fathering.

Seventy-one percent of teenage pregnancies occur when the expectant mother was raised in a fatherless home. Nearly 75 percent of teenage male suicides come from fatherless homes.

"There is no way to overestimate the importance of a father, grandfather or father figure in a young person's life," said Casey, who has met with President Obama on these issues. "We have got to make men more responsible for their actions."

Or as Todd Agne of First Things First noted Wednesday, "The best thing you can give a child is to show them a healthy relationship between their mother and father. Unfortunately, we are seeing less and less of that."

Hoping to encourage men to appreciate women more, Parks' group is sponsoring the "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" event on Saturday morning at Coolidge Park. For $25 a man can slip on a pair of rented high-heels, receive a T-shirt and sort of feel like what it is to be a woman. Anyone interested should call (423) 755-2822.

"I'm wearing pumps," said Parks.

It wouldn't change the world or magically give them character, but maybe Woods and Roethlisberger should consider hosting a similar event. They could call it "Heels in heels."