By Tom Quiner
I used to be a boxing fan until Mike Tyson came along.
I attended a closed circuit fight with a buddy of mine to watch Mr. Tyson take on Evander Holyfield. Mr. Tyson was clearly getting bested by Holyfield. You could see Tyson’s frustration growing, because he was having trouble laying a glove on the pugilist who had defeated him in an earlier encounter.
What happened in the third round is history. Tyson bit a chunk out of Holyfield’s ear. When the round continued, he bit the other ear. The chaos that ensued can be viewed above.
This was bad enough. But it was the reaction of the crowd that bothered me the most. The Tyson fans cheered their man on with the cry: “go champ.” And this was a crowd here in civilized Des Moines, Iowa, watching the event on the big screen.
Like so many, I had enjoyed the fights of Mohammed Ali, Joe Frazier, and Sugar Ray Leonard. Tyson ruined it for me by transforming an already primal sport into pure barbarism.
Less offensive examples abound in sports these days of uncivil behavior by our star athletes. Tiger Woods is famous for dropping the “f” bomb within earshot of kids when he hits a bad shot.
And then there’s Serena Williams who screamed at an official that she “hated her” for a call she deemed to be wrong, and in a previous tournament, that she would shove a tennis ball down the poor official’s throat for another bad call.
And who could forget John McEnroe’s relentless tirades against officials back in the 80s?
I heard a wonderful speaker tonight at an event for Christian men. He said kids don’t remember what you say, they remember what you do.
This speaker works with youth and speaks to youth groups. When he asks them whom they admire, no one ever raises their hand and says Charlie Sheen … or Kobie Bryant … or Tiger Woods.
It might be their Mom or Dad. Or a neighbor. Or someone else’s parent.
The point is, it’s not the famous celebrities who act like teenagers in public with their uncivil behavior. They admire people who act admirably.
This shouldn’t be so profound, should it? But it is when you look at how so many celebrities act (out) in public for our kids to see.
Do you know who people are really attracted to? People who live holy lives.
That’s our challenge. That’s our goal. To live in a way to that really lives up to our kids’ expectations.