The sky is falling for the Packers’ offense and the sky already fell for the Milwaukee Brewers. I get that – and I will be sharing my opinions on Aaron Rodgers, Carlos Gomez, Ron Roenicke and more in due time. But now is not the time for that.
Because more than all of that, I have a sad feeling about sports these days, and it’s regarding a topic we are all aware of – because of its prevalence in the news.
I used to wake up every morning – we all used to wake up every morning – looking at the late scores from the night before. Checking out the box scores, checking our fantasy leagues, seeing who did what in the pennant races.
And maybe we still do – to an extent. But there was a definitive time last week that continues today – where the first thing I check is what athlete was arrested/committed domestic abuse/broke our societal covenant in some way.
And I don’t just look to see who did it, I find myself needing the details. What they did no longer suffices. Why did they do it? How did they do it? On my moral and ethical compass, how bad was it? And, are they taking responsibility or do they not get it?
Of course, Adrian Peterson is central to this story.
Peterson is charged with punishing one of his 4-year-old sons by taking a switch (I had heard the term "switch" but had to look up what it was – it’s an 18-to-24-inch thin branch that is used to whip another human being) and repeatedly striking the boy all over his body.
In today’s day and age, the evidence is overwhelming that corporal punishment doesn’t work. It creates fear, anxiety, pain and more violence, but it very rarely brings about the change the parent inflicting the punishment is intending.
I’m not here to indict corporal punishment, although I have never partaken in it, and was hit exactly once ever by my father as a child. But as this case has developed, I’ve been shocked by the actual violence of it. The number of strikes Peterson administered to his son. The sheer violence of the act. And the complete obliviousness Peterson has exhibited since the incident to why it was wrong.
Peterson grew up in a household where physical violence was the norm. In his mind, he still believes he did nothing wrong. He may think he went a bit too far, but acknowledges this with a chuckle and an innocence that disregards common human decency.
I can’t fathom committing the acts Peterson perpetuated on another human being. And this is a human being he has been entrusted to PROTECT.
To GUIDE THROUGH LIFE.
This wasn’t self-defense. This wasn’t during a sporting event. This was a 29-year-old man – perhaps one of the strongest 29-year-old men on the planet – physically abusing a 4-year-old boy.
I am the father of a 4-year-old. They are amazing, curious, impressionable, hilarious, stubborn and loving. Mr. Peterson, I simply can’t fathom.
While the Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, Jonathan Dwyer cases are on-going, like Peterson’s, it’s taken us away from why we love sports so much. Sports are supposed to be the distraction.
Even if it’s 2014 and we have way too much access; we know too much about our athletes, coaches, managers and team owners. And even though sports aren’t as pure as our fathers and grandfathers and mothers and grandmothers thought, they aren’t supposed to be this evil, this filled with pain and suffering.
I am looking forward to the day I can wake up and check the standings, check my fantasy team and check out what’s happening in the world of sports – without the police blotter taking over my sports page.
Mitch Nelles, aka Thunder, is a long-time resident of the Milwaukee area with some serious Wisconsin roots.
Born and raised in Boston himself, Mitch brings a bit of a coastie attitude to his fandom. He moved to Wisconsin in 1990, where he attended Nicolet High School and the University of Wisconsin. His grandparents and entire mother’s side of his family were born and raised in Milwaukee (yes, serious roots).
Mitch has worked for the Wisconsin State Journal, Milwaukee Bucks and 540 ESPN in Milwaukee/100.5 ESPN in Madison, serving as the co-host of “Homer & Thunder” for the past eight years.
Also very active in the community, Mitch has emceed and auctioneered events for Make-a-Wish, Variety of Wisconsin, Russell Wilson’s personal foundation and The Guest House, just to name a few.
Mitch was in the crowd when the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series, when Wisconsin played in the Final Four this past April and when Ron Roenicke inexplicably pitched Shaun Marcum in Game 6 of the NLCS in 2011.