Not Just Sex

Criminal charges or not, Ben Roethlisberger’s off-field behaviors highlight an ugly underbelly of the world of the celebrity, male athlete.  Most have heard the anecdotal reports that men think about sex about every minute.  Also the “raging hormones” of adolescent boys are regularly sited for their inability to focus on a woman’s face when speaking to her.  These things being said, Roethlisberger’s behaviors are not about sex.  Cornering a woman in a public bathroom or aggressively pursuing a hotel employee may look like a sexual desire, but it is clear that they are not loving behaviors nor, at the end of the day, are they “just sex.”

Tiger Wood’s has suggested his sexual escapades were due to entitlement… he may be quite accurate in this reflection.  Two other potential factors were left out: display of power and a supportive cultural/social environment.  These ideas were examined closely in 1999 in, the controversial book, Public Heroes, Private Felons by Jeff Benedict.  Whether one is comfortable or uncomfortable with Benedict’s research, it is valuable… necessary food for thought.  Examining Kobe Bryant’s incident in Colorado a few years back, while now out of the media, it reeks of one person clearly exerting power over another.  Reading the reports of Roethlisberger’s recent nightclub incident one sees a cast of characters and organizations supporting, enabling, and protecting the superstar athlete (the Steelers and NFL seem not pleased with the actions and upcoming weeks will highlight whether they tacitly support or are truly enraged by these events).

An easy justification for these behaviors often is, “Boys will be boys.”  This is a tough one to swallow.  Is this how our local accountants, dentists, doctors, and everyday people act?  Maybe it is “normal” behavior if you a celebrity or powerful person.  This is also tough to swallow.  If you have a daughter would you be comfortable sending her out into a world that operates as Mr. Roethlisberger’s does?  Love sports, support athletes, and cheer for the hometown team.  At the same time however, do not be blinded by the glare of stardom or sport… be part of building a better culture of athletic and personal development.  One that is both safe and savory for all of us and our children.

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