The question “What’s wrong with America?” may be a question that has been asked through the decades, but it always demands an answer in the era in which it is asked. There are a lot of things America can improve on, but occasionally there are incidents that show us what, indeed, is wrong with America.
Two West Mary High School football players were arrested for allegedly getting into a physical altercation with a referee during a game on November 1. Traci Landry, spokeswoman for the St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office, said the teens, ages 15 and 16, were arrested last Friday on warrants for battery of a school or recreational athletic official. The names of the teens are being withheld because of their ages.
The alleged incident occurred on the field of play during a home game against Erath High School. The investigation revealed that the teens punched a referee in the head and the shoulder areas.
Earlier this year, there was a high-profile case of a teen soccer player who punched a referee during a soccer match when the referee called a penalty on the teenager. The referee, 46-year-old Ricardo Portillo, was in a coma for a week before he died. The 17-year-old soccer player pleaded guilty to a charge of homicide by assault. The teenager said that he became “frustrated” with the referee over the penalty call against him and then punched him in the head.
The incidents involving the two Louisiana teen football players accused of physically assaulting a referee and the Utah teen soccer player who pleaded guilty to punching a referee who died are isolated incidents that symbolize a growing problem with a lack of respect for authority.
Liberals can’t blame conservatives and conservatives can’t blame liberals for the lack of respect for authority. This is a problem that is manifested in the home. There are societal contributions, but parents have the responsibility to teach and demand respect for authority and there are too many indications that respect for authority is diminishing in America.
It is not surprising that we are witnessing a growing lack of respect for authority in young generations because the parents of those generations practice a lack of respect for authority in society and reinforce this disturbing trend.
I hate to use the cliché “when I was growing up,” but it does provide a first-hand perspective on life’s changes.
When I was young, it would have been unheard of for ANY young athlete to assault a referee over a bad call. Even the bad, rebellious students would not have even considered physically assaulting a referee over a bad call. The reality that young teenage athletes would instinctively react with violence during a game demonstrates a gross lack of basic respect for authority.
We hear about teachers who have been assaulted by students and teachers who fear physical violence from their students. When I was growing up, even the unruly students in class would never have considered crossing that line of respect for authority. The blatant disregard for authority in teenagers is something that is born at home – with parents. But in fairness, that is something that is also supported by the behavior of adults in society.
The parent who becomes verbally abusive with a coach or a referee at a kids’ game, or the parents who deny their child’s guilt in misbehaving at school, and even the lack of respect for the office of the Presidency, all reinforce a sense of defying authority.
As Americans, we have all witnessed disagreement over political ideology used as an excuse to disrespect the office of the presidency. It has never been more obvious than it is now with President Obama in the White House and when President George W. Bush was in the White House. As a nation, there is a difference between political disagreement and disrespect. We should all respect the office of the Presidency, but we can vehemently disagree with the person who is President. Many of those who are quick to say they cannot and will not show any respect for the office of the President because Obama is President are the same Americans who told those who hated Bush that there should be respect for the office of the President even if there is total disagreement with the man who is President.
The examples of incivility in America among adults sets a negative example for young generations who are already not being taught the art of civility. The idea that civility is a sign of weakness is the result of Neanderthal mentality. It takes more strength and courage to control the primal instinct to use force when reacting to situations that challenge us than it does to punch a wall or a referee.
I understand that some bad teens are raised by good parents in good homes, but there was a time when even the bad teens understood that there were consequences for defiance of authority.
If parents fail to teach their children respect for authority, then the burden ultimately falls on society. Unfortunately, when it gets to the point of becoming society’s responsibility - before we administer our punishment – others may have suffered at the hands of a frustrated teenager who was never taught the skills to deal with conflict or their emotions.
In the case of the 17-year-old soccer player in Utah, the teen pleaded guilty, but his moment of rage leaves 3 young girls without a father.
The single thing that we as a nation should demand is that parents act as parents and not only teach, but also practice civility and respect for authority. The great thing about this simple requirement is that it costs nothing and it’s something every parent can do and failure to do so cannot be blamed on liberals or conservatives – only oneself.