Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday's Musings on Sports - Dez Bryant, Seinfeld and the Rain

Over the last twenty four hours, the sports news world has been set on fire by various NFL stories. Although there are many drew my attention, the story which most piqued my interest involved Dallas' troubled but talented WR, Dez Bryant.

Last month, a story broke that Bryant had been arrested for hitting his biological mother. Its hard to comprehend how this happened and why a grown man would strike his mother. Eventually, the story died down and it has been reported that Ma' Bryant indicated that she would not be cooperating with authorities or pressing charges against her son.

Anxious to avoid more negative publicity, the Dallas Cowboys started a "double secret" probation process to protect their investment. The terms of the probation included: (1) A midnight curfew. If he's going to miss curfew, team officials must know in advance; (2) No drinking alcohol; (3) He can only attend nightclubs if they are approved by the team and he has a security team with him; (4)He must attend counseling sessions twice a week; (5) A rotating three-man security team will leave one man with Bryant at all times and (6)Members of the security team will drive Bryant to practices, games and team functions. [Terms of the probation are courtesy of Yahoo NFL Blog Shutdown Corner which has markedly improved since the departure of Mr. Chase].

Mike Greenberg commented on the lengths that the Cowboys went to and compared it to a line that he attributed to Jerry Seinfeld which never made it into the TV show but is true just the same. Seinfeld observed that there is no reason that the authorities should have to enforce the helmet laws. If a person is not smart enough to wear a helmet and protect against head injuries, then he deserves what happens to him. Greenberg drew a parallel to Bryant and his status in the NFL. Since Dez is in his second year in the league, he is in the middle of a NFL mandated rookie contract which severely restricts his earning power. But if he has a couple of good years, his next contract could easily exceed $100 million. All Bryant has to do is not get into trouble and stay healthy and perform to his potential and its all there for him. Yet he needs a six point probation period to protect him from himself.

The story reminded me of a story that I heard on a Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation CD for Tisha B'Av which was told by R' Ephraim Shapiro. He mentioned that his parents were walking in Jerusalem when a sudden rainstorm hit. They were walking in narrow streets and looking for shelter when an old lady beckoned them from an entryway. They thought she needed help, but instead she invited them in from the rain. When they entered her sparsely furnished 2nd floor apartment, they saw that rain was coming in through a hole in the roof. The water was coming down on to the woman's shabbos table and she had wrapped her challos in plastic so they would not get wet. They could not help from asking her - don't you want to get the landlord to fix this hole? She responded - its gishmei beracha - blessed rain.

The story stayed with me over the last month and seems to echo at various points when I hear or see things. This woman had virtually nothing and her meager possessions were getting rained upon. However to her, the water just Hashem's blessing and nothing to be upset about.

If this woman could be happy with her lot and could maximize her enjoyment of life, why can't a professional athlete stay out of trouble to maximize his earning potential during his brief playing career?

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