With the recent reports covered both by the Philadelphia Eagles and Cal Bears media regarding former Cal wide receiver Desean Jackson and the strain on his respective teams as a result of his family members' involvement, you kind of have to wonder how much is too much in terms of the parent involvement in sports.
By the way, I'm not going to spend a lot of time going recapping the articles (although I will highlight a few select quotes), you can just read them here:
Can the parents really be faulted for wanting to be truly involved in their son's life?Or does a young athlete have to at some point become his own man and do, think, and act for himself?
But we've seen parents' involvement in sports before. From orange slices, to soccer moms, to the overbearing dad at the little league game who beckons his son over after the kid has just struck out and not too gently wraps his palm around the back of the kid's neck and breaks into a three minute tirade of why the kid absolutely failed in 83 different ways at the plate. And to a certain extent, you've seen it a bit of it at the collegiate and pro level: parents who are criticized for caring perhaps a little too much:
· Bobby Reid's mom spoonfeeds him chicken prompting the Jenni Carlson editorial and consequently the Mike Gundy rant. "I'm a man! I'm 40!"
· Papa Archie Manning refuses to allow kiddo Eli Manning to play for the San Diego Chargers in the 2004 Draft.
· The aforementioned Lebron James incident involving Lebron James telling his mommy dearest to sit her booty down when she attempted to take on the entire Celtics squad after Paul Pierce was little too rough with the King.
The list goes on. There's obviously a fine balance between parental guidance and care for their children athletes, and head shakingly bad pampering. I'm not sure Desean Jackson's situation really falls in either category. I know I'm slightly beating a dead horse here as there has already been much said about this issue, but I did feel it was worth at least briefly looking at what's been covered recently with Desean Jackson, Desean's father Bill Jackson, and Coach Jeff Tedford.
The whole discussion can really highlight by two quotes:
Bill Jackson: "His coach at Cal said we were too involved in his life. This is a real family. This ain't people in the street . . . I don't understand it. I worked hard all my life . . . we're a good family. Me and DeSean's mother, we've been separated for years, but you wouldn't know it. I'm at her house right now . . . I ain't never been in jail. I'm a good citizen, I vote. I saw on TV before the draft, about [running back] Darren McFadden's mother [having been addicted to cocaine]. I see things on the Internet about me being a bad parent.
I ask coach Tedford, 'Why not be involved with your children?' . . . I've heard Andy Reid doesn't want me anywhere near his facility. I'm like, 'Damn, what did I do?' ''
Coach Tedford: "With outside opinions and outside advice always eating at DeSean, he was in a very tough spot. He's trying to be a team guy, trying to fit in and play his role, but dealing with outside information always eating at him, and not always positive. It ended up putting him in a very difficult position. He's had to deal with a lot of different people's opinions being shot at him. That's where I think he has grown, and will continue to grow, on being his own man, using his own common sense. Being part of the meetings and the offense, he knows better than the outsiders what is going on.''
For what it's worth, I can completely understand where the Jackson family is coming from, and would say that Bill Jackson and company have every single right to be involved in Desean's life. Far too often we've seen what has happened as a result of the opposite. However, it appears that Bill Jackson's quotes indicate that they might be missing the point. I don't question for a second that Bill's a good parent or that they're a bad family. I just feel the issue is more about whether they get too involved with certain areas that they should let Desean handle himself, namely his sports career. I just can't help but feel that Tedford's comments make too much sense here.
Does Bill Jackson have the right to feel the way he does? Absolutely. What parent doesn't want to see their child succeed and flourish in competitive sports, or anything for that matter? But a parent has to also be cognizant of what type of repercussions his feelings have on the player and for his or her team when they are as vocal or as "involved" as they are. All in all, you can't blame Bill Jackson for feeling the way he does, but one can see how he may need to use better judgment about how much he allows Desean to really think and act for himself, now that Desean is in the pros. Whether Desean's actions end up being the "right" ones, time will tell, but ultimately they should be Desean's actions and decisions to make.