Framing the Dialogue

Entitlement

The City of Pittsburgh generally lands in the top ten when a list of “the most livable cities” is created.  In the most recent poll by Forbes, Pittsburgh landed in the tenth spot.  Having lived here I cannot think of a better place to live and raise a family.  My wife and I did decide to move out of the city, however, for two primary reasons; Pittsburgh’s excessive taxes and poor schools. 

It is an interesting contrast to be one of the top ten most livable communities while the City is in receivership because they spend too much money and the schools are poor.  Pittsburgh is, however, blessed by having great universities, phenomenal health care facilities, great cultural amenities, and world champion sports teams.

Some members of our Pittsburgh Steelers have had some bad publicity lately, Big Ben in particular.  I had been thinking about this when our local paper ran a story about this issue and how athletes feel entitled.   Ben (I am not going to spell out his last name out of laziness) is at a minimum a sleazebag who liquors-up young girls to take advantage of them.  I hate to think of the worst and he has never even been arrested for any of the accusations.  There are those who defend him offering the opinion that as a high profile athlete he is a target.

I have an interesting perspective having children who are/were active in high school sports, but not football.  Our football team was never one of the big programs in the area, but there is no doubt that football rules in Western Pennsylvania High Schools.  A Friday night home football game is the place to be for many.  Many aged, ex-players still wear some clothing displaying their high school glory days.

I can only wonder what privileges a player with Ben Roethlisberger’s ability has been afforded.  I am not suggesting anything illegal, just privileges.  How does/can a young person handle this without developing a sense of entitlement?  I don’t really watch too much of the National Football League anymore because of the behavior of the player on and off of the field. 

The NFL seems to be moving toward the style of the NBA.  Star players celebrating each and every time they make a play…plays that they are paid handsomely to make.  I don’t want to watch that anymore.  I like the quote attributed to former Steelers’ coach Chuck Knoll when he told a player to “act as if he’d been there before” when his player celebrated a touchdown too enthusiastically.  To his credit Ben Roethlisberger has not really been one of those players on the field.  It is his off-field antics that leave many fans shaking their heads. 

Pittsburgh’s other championship team has a player with even bigger expectations yet none of the baggage.  Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sydney Crosby has been the face of the National Hockey League since he was drafted many years ago.   He is arguably the best player in hockey, is paid a great deal of money, is very recognizable, lives in the spotlight (especially in his home country of Canada) yet he carries none of the baggage that NFL players have.

It has to be entitlement.  Football players get lots of amenities.  I do recognize that the football teams also bring in more revenue that other sports teams, but which came first entitlement or revenue?  Hockey players conversely are funded by their parents.  Young players often have to get up very early to get ice time.  Many play games or have practices late at night.  Their climb to the professional level is built on a foundation of sacrifice.

Sporting News Magazine Oct. 09 - Ben Roethlisberger, the youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl and Sidney Crosby, the youngest captain in NHL to win the Stanley Cup.

The Penguins have two great traditions started over the last few years.  The first is when players’ fathers accompany the team on a road trip.  It is sort of a thank you for the sacrifice and dedication of the families.  During television broadcasts they usually show the fathers sitting together watching and enjoying their childrens play as they have been doing for many years.  The networks often do some stories about the road travel to get their kids to the NHL level.  It is a classy way to say thank you to the fathers.

The Penguins also do a lot for the fans.  It is not unusual for players to be seen delivering pizza to fans waiting in line before a game.  The coolest tradition takes place at their last regular season home game.  It is the “Shirt Off Their Back” event where lucky fans are selected and are literally given the shirts off of the players backs.  During the event this

year the cameras caught Crosby feverishly signing articles of clothing, sticks, anything the fans pushed to him.  He never grumbled or stopped smiling.

I don’t get a sense of entitlement from NHL players.  I would say that their attitude is gratefulness and it is much more fun to watch as a fan.

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