It Takes a Village

“We believe the additional year of maturity would be meaningful. And increasingly, I’ve been told by many NBA coaches that one of the issues with the younger guys coming into the league is they’ve never had an opportunity to lead. By having come directly out of their first year of college, those are the moments in their lives where…they were put in positions as upperclassmen, where they first learned how to lead teammates.”
– NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on raising the NBA minimum age
So what you’re saying, Mr. Silver, is that by staying an extra year on a college campus, these young men will be afforded the opportunity to remain in a nurturing environment which will allow them to grow mentally, build strong characters and facilitate their growth into leaders. Well, I can’t argue with that it sounds great except for this:
Ray Rice – Rutgers University 2005-2007
Greg Hardy – University of Mississippi 2006-2009
Hmmm, I guess their college experience didn’t help with that strong character thing.
You see, what Mr. Silver wanted to say was this.
We believe that an additional year of exposure at the college level would significantly improve the marketability of players eligible for the NBA draft, which will allow us to increase our revenue stream. After all, the NBA is a business just like the NFL and every other sports league, and at the end of the day, our bottom line is why we do what we do.
The concept that the mere act of going to college will ensure young male athletes will mature mentally, build strong characters, take responsibility for their actions, and become the leaders of tomorrow is no more real than believing that being elected to Congress would accomplish those same things. Sadly we have seen in both cases that’s not the case.
Going to college can and has played a critical role in the development of many young men. It provides them with an environment where they can develop their identity and internalize a personal set of beliefs and values absent from their family and childhood community’s external influences. However, in most cases, there will always be those who overcome; when this occurs in a positive fashion, there is more at play than just simply the act of stepping onto a college campus. Instead, it is the existence of a strong and healthy foundation established from early childhood that is in place. One that serves as a roadmap for young adults as they mature, adopt their belief systems, and increasingly begin to accept responsibility for their actions.
It is easy to look at those who do wrong and debate what form of punishment best suits their crime in society. But what is difficult is to look inward and find the root causes for the issues at hand, and until we do that, we will never advance as a society. What is clear is that we must endeavor to lay the proper foundation for our young men to grow and build on as a society. A large part of this is in teaching our young men how to respect women from the moment they can walk through our words and actions. The challenges to doing just that are many in today’s world. The number of young men being raised by single mothers is higher today than it has ever been, and while many of them are doing an excellent job, it does not negate the importance for young men to have positive male role models to look to. Pop culture and sports stars have long since abdicated that responsibility, not that they ever should have had it, which means that the burden falls on the men in the community to model proper behavior and respect toward women in their community at all times, to mentor young men on how to communicate their feelings without violence or threats and to be involved in their children’s lives, and not just through court-ordered child support payments, whether they are still involved with the child’s mother or not. An old African proverb popularized by a Hilary Clinton book in the 90s tells us that it “It takes a village to raise a child,” and never has that been more true than today with so many young men being raised without positive male influences in their lives and the constant sexual objectification of women they are overwhelmed with on television, social media and everyday life. The choice is ours. We can either start to lay the foundation for the next generation of young men or watch them continue down a path we know leads to their ultimate destruction.

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