October raises awareness for worthy causes and controversy

October is awareness month for breast cancer, domestic violence and evidently, pet wellness, cyber security, dental hygiene, bullying prevention and fire prevention.

The NFL and many sport organizations do find means to demonstrate support for breast cancer awareness with bright pink apparel. Martina Navratilova, the Czech tennis legend, is perhaps the most famous survivor of the disease expected to claim 40,000 lives this year. It is interesting to learn an obscurely famous athlete named Faye Dancer died from breast cancer 11 years ago and that she was one of the stars of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League portrayed by Madonna in the 1992 film “A League of Their Own.”

Speaking of dead, the USA Today columnist who once visited the campus of Tiffin University was dead wrong on her assertion that Tigers’ recently retired manager Jim Leyland should have extended the drug suspension of Jhonny Peralta this past season. Christine Brennan is fearless in expressing opinions based on societal expectations and judicious equability; however, she was fiercely wrong to believe that ethics and prudence would stream into the consciousness of the business of Major League Baseball.

Brennan suggested the Tigers should have followed the example from last year’s MLB World Champion San Francisco Giants who didn’t bring Melky Cabera back after he exhausted his 50-game drug suspension. The assertion was the franchise wanted to make a bigger statement about drugs in baseball. The fact is, Melky didn’t return to the roster because of a managerial lineup decision, not because of a consideration for values, morals and principles. There were completely different circumstances concerning the timing of the likely return of each player that were omitted from the story. Nevertheless, the Tigers are still left sitting at home lamenting over how Boston narrowly and sadly advanced to this year’s World Series.

It would be great if automatic game suspensions were in place for players guilty of domestic violence, a second popular October cause. The list of celebrity athletes accused or charged with abuse includes names like Chad Johnson, Jim Brown, Manny Ramirez, Jose Canseco, and former Tiger player, Dmitri Young. Perhaps the NFL coaches and players sporting pink this month for breast cancer should go the extra step to bring awareness to the “other” October cause.

The number or actual cases of domestic relationship violence is much higher than reported since so many victims choose to remain silent. The likelihood of some punk kid on the roster of a Division II or III football team sending degrading text messages and carrying out bits of rage against his girlfriend is just as common, but less publicized, than cases involving someone like Tito Ortiz, Albert Belle, Mike Tyson or Rae Carruth. The scenario certainly is not limited to a lowlife celebrity athlete or a lowlife 18-22-year-old college football player obsessed with sports, video games, dodging homework and classes. It is a misleading social epidemic that doesn’t distinguish between athletes and non-athletes, Christians and non-Christians, adolescent young men or mature adults.

Perhaps George Whitfield Jr., the Tiffin University alumni who helped train 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and NFL quarterback Ben Roethlisberger could reach out to some of his NFL connections to inspire an awareness campaign for domestic violence. Whitfield recounted inspiring stories during Tiffin University’s “Good Morning World” series, which he attributed to coaching legends Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks and Nick Saban of Alabama. Saban’s story focused on a fishing buddy who continued to throw seemingly large catches back in the water because he only owned a six-inch frying pan. The moral was that narrow-mindedness prevented the fisherman from seeing opportunities or seeking out alternative solutions. Sadly, too many victims of domestic violence remain silent because they are unable to see past that six-inch frying pan.

Coach Carroll’s story was about a high school junior who aspired to play ball at the local JUCO because it was the only place he thought would accept him with average grades. A surprisingly high SAT score, however, changed his plans and instead, the kid finished out his schooling earning straight A’s while pursuing an Ivy League education. Later in life as a rich, powerful CEO of a very successful Fortune 500 company, the man received a letter from the SAT board explaining a case of mistaken identity when meant his super high score actually belonged to someone with an identical name and his score was much lower.

The moral of that particular story is an inspiration to those afflicted with breast cancer or any other potentially deadly disease. The power of a positive mindset can absolutely change someone’s destiny. Indeed, Whitfield has helped engineer the destiny of a few quarterbacks in his time. He is someone Tiffin University, quarterbacks of all shapes and sizes, media personnel on ESPN College Game Day, and coaches at all levels can be sincerely proud to know as both a genuine person and an inspirational training genius. Maybe “Whitfield” should be added to the list of sporty dog names like Agassi, Nike, Lambeau, or Rocky Balboa. pet wellness advocates may certainly agree!

Stay tuned next month for more interesting and entertaining views on sports from around the globe to our local corner of the world here in northwest Ohio.

Bonnie Tiell is the Associate Professor of Sports Management at Tiffin University.