I was a scout team player on the 1969 Wittenberg Tiger football team. That team won the first NCAA National Championship Football game ever played. Though it was a division 3 team we had some very Big Time Players that could have played anywhere in the country.
One of them was Wes Bates the founder and CEO of Stanley Steamer Carpet Cleaners. Another was Rocky Alt who became a well-respected college football coach in his own right.
The coach that put that team together was William “Bull” Edwards who incidentally was then godfather of Bill Belichick. Coach Belichick’s father played for Bull when he was the head coach of the Detroit Lions, and Vanderbilt University.
In this age of Name—image, and Likeness (NIL), and the transfer portal where players move about from institution to institution, I am reminded of the different ethic that was in play when I played compared to today. Not only athletes, but students in general are commoditized and the institutions seem to care more about what students can do for the university than what the university can do for students. Young people’s futures have been hurt and their potential academically has been compromised. The only place today that I see the student being the center point of the educational process is at the service academies and at the Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Getting an education, becoming a good citizen, and learning a life skill so you can be a productive member of society should be what education is all about.
In 2005 Laura Bush expressed her concerns in a Seattle newspaper about the plight of young boys growing up in our country. Her words:
“First lady Laura Bush said recently she is concerned about boys lagging behind in education and turning to drugs and gangs. It’s something she plans to focus on during the next four years.”
Boy was she ever correct but not only about boys but about all our children. According to a 2020 U.S. Census Report (Living Arrangements of Children Under 18 Years Old – 1960 to Present), over 24 million children in the U.S. (close to 33% of all children), live without a biological, step, or adoptive father in the home. The impact of this dynamic, for all children but especially boys, is absolutely staggering. Consider the following statistics from various studies and governmental agency reports.
The problem is that many of our problems today come because children are growing up without men in their lives. Fatherless homes, mentors, the structure of family is the single biggest danger to our country. Bigger than any foreign or domestic threat. If we don’t have a great reawakening of the American family—adults raising children, we will no longer be able to share the values and moral predicates upon which to carry out the business of society.
Some more numbers that are chilling:
- 90% of all homeless and runaway youths are from fatherless homes,
- 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders are from fatherless homes,
- 75% of adolescent patients in substance abuse centers are from fatherless homes,
- 71 % of high school dropouts are from fatherless homes,
- 70% of youths in state institutions are from fatherless homes, and
- 65% of YOUTH SUICIDES are from fatherless homes.
Based on these statistics, “fatherlessness” could very well be described as THE biggest social problem facing America since it contributes to so many of the behavioral/societal ills we are dealing with in our country.
Mike Gottfried a former college football coach and ESPN analyst formed a group called TEAM FOCUS to help address the issue of fatherless homes. In an e-mail I received today from another college teammate I was informed that Rocky Alt has been involved in the program since retiring from coaching several years ago. He is now head of the Ohio Chapter of Team Focus. Fathers, mentors, coaches, and teachers have shaped my life and been in my corner all along the way. I will try to do more to help those who have not had the advantages that I have had in my life—not the least of which was a strict, faithful, and compassionate father.
Especially on Father’s Day, I think of my own father and the other men in my life. In all those cases I believe that Devine Providence has been acting on my behalf as these men helped me negotiate difficult times and helped show me how to make tough decisions. How to win and lose and “treat those two imposters just the same”
On Father’s Day and Mother’s Day, I think of the Holy Family. Mary said yes, but Joseph said yes also. Blind faith and trust on both of their parts and how different our world would have been if they hadn’t said yes—they both had “free will” after all. Jesus came from a “good family”!
In the Facebook post that was sent to me, they quoted from Jerimiah 29:11:
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, ·plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.
Last week the great Charles Barkley in an interview expressed his concerns about how adults were using children and not developing character and human capital. He mentioned that when he went to all Black schools and asked the boys what they wanted to do when they grew up 90% said —”become a professional athlete”. When he went to predominantly white high schools 90% had never even thought of becoming a professional athlete—they wanted to get jobs or go to college.
Charles identified the problem as a lack of “adult supervision”. I say maybe it was a lack of men in the lives of young boys.
Thank you to all the Rocky Alts and Charles Barkley’s of the world.
Thanks to all the Dads and most of all Thank You, Dad.