Odell Beckham fiasco shows why pro sports cannot be a model for youth sports

The New York Giants and Carolina Panthers played an interesting game on Sunday afternoon. A Carolina blowout turned massive New York comeback was overshadowed by the worst on-field behavior anyone has seen out of an NFL wide receiver in about 20 years. Have a look at the video below.

The last time an NFL wide receiver received three personal foul penalties in a single game was back in 1996. Beckham should have been ejected from the game by the referees, benched by his coach or at least reprimanded by his teammates. Nothing of the sort happened.

Pro sports are a poor model for youth sports. You and your kids just can’t do what they do. The stakes, expectations and money is a lot different. Odell Beckham may be the best receiver in football. Most NFL coaches, Tom Coughlin included,  don’t have the type of job security that allows them to take many principled stands.

Now the Giants lost the game anyway, but Beckham did score the game-tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter. His antics aside, he gave the Giants a chance to win. No way Coughlin was going to cut off his nose to spite his face.

The referees could have done their jobs, but they didn’t. None of them wanted to take the heat for ejecting one of the league’s best players. It’s easy to throw out a backup lineman who throws a tantrum, but this is Odell Beckham. It became a game of character hot potato.

Another thing that’s very apparent is the Giants’ lack of veteran leadership. Beckham’s penalties were hurting the team and no one got in his face to rein him in. The Panthers are undefeated. Giving them free 15-yard chunks and first downs to match doesn’t help. Yet, Big Blue shrunk.

Once again, discipline of a wayward player falls at the feet of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. However he decides to discipline Beckham, there shouldn’t be any complaints. Several parties had opportunities and they did nothing.

Youth leagues can’t be run this way. No matter how talented an athlete is, adults should not be afraid to bench the kid and discipline him. Pros play for money and wins and losses get people hired and fired. The NFL is multi-billion dollar business. Your league is not.

Siting a misbehaving kid won’t mean anyone’s job. The bottom line is not the bottom line in youth sports. While we should release our kids to the game, adults need to make sure things don’t become a free-for-all.

 

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