As a child, when I fought with my sister two years younger than me, my father told me to “count to ten.” And if that didn’t work, he’d say, “count to 20.”
I had hoped that Amar’e Stoudemire’s encounter with a fire extinguisher Monday after the Knicks’ 104-94 loss to the Miami Heat would provide a teachable moment to parents, educators, and coaches. What can be learned from his impetuous action? Out of Game 3 in the playoffs tonight, the wounded Stoudemire is expecting to return to play by Sunday.
Adults working with or raising children sometimes witness volatile behavior. It’s our job to teach children how to control themselves, monitor their words, and refocus their anger into positive actions. When athletes like Stoudemire misbehave, acting without thinking as if by instinct, the world watches. For many young people, who consider these athletes heroes, they think it’s ok.
Should these athletes be held to a higher moral standard? Yes. They are role models. Walk into any urban middle or high school, ask a group of boys what they want to be when they grow up. Chances are you’ll hear quite a few respond: “a basketball player for the NBA, or a football player for the NFL.”
What’s making this incident worse is Stoudemire’s confession that he was merely walking by the fire extinguisher, swinging his arm and had no intention of smashing the glass, tearing his hand, and dripping blood all over. He says he wouldn’t intentionally try to hurt himself in the midst of the playoffs.
I find this incredible. Who strolls by an inanimate object, hits or kicks it, without realizing damage could occur?
I wish he’d say: “Yes, I was mad and I wasn’t thinking. I let my anger cloud my judgment and I’m really sorry.”
He let down the team; he let down his fans.
Maybe he could even add that he hopes no one does what he did. Maybe he could say, “I wish I counted to ten.”