BOSTON (CBS) – I like professional sports, always have. Celtics, Bruins, Red Sox, Patriots, I watch them all and root hard for them all.
Beyond just the entertainment value, pro sports can help bring families and communities together with a shared passion that can’t really be duplicated anywhere else.
And I believe that competitive sports at all levels serve a very positive social function.
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If you ever played a sport in school or in some amateur league you know how great an experience it can be, how it can teach you so much about teamwork, friendship, loyalty, dealing with adversity, and so on.
So that’s the good news about team sports.
Now, the bad news.
Accused murderer Aaron Hernandez is the 28th NFL player charged with a crime since the last Super Bowl.
Hernandez isn’t even the only player to face a murder charge this week; on Tuesday, a linebacker for the Cleveland Browns was charged with attempted murder and dumped by his team.
Most pro athletes don’t get mixed up in this kind of thing; some of them are even terrific role models. But when they go bad, there is usually a common thread to their stories that should give us pause.
After all, we create the culture that often gives star players a sense of entitlement and invulnerability from a very young age. We’re the ones who encourage excessively violent behavior, cheering on the fights and big hits that make the highlight reels.
We demand wins, and winning performances; we don’t put quite so much emphasis on good sportsmanship, citizenship and personal maturity.
We’ll find out soon enough what brought Aaron Hernandez to this terrible point, and I’m not blaming it on the sports he played.
But the fact that this happens shouldn’t take anyone by surprise.
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