- Associated Press - Thursday, September 18, 2014

St. Cloud Times, Sept. 17

Peterson’s suspension charts path for NFL

There are two elements of good in the Minnesota Vikings putting Adrian Peterson on suspension at least until his court case involving child abuse charges is resolved.

First, it’s the right decision.

Second - and more importantly - it should set the new NFL standard for off-field violence.

When players, employees and even owners face felony-level charges or credible accusations of any violence against women, children and family members, the accused should be suspended until those charges are resolved.

Remember, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell the past few weeks vowed to crack down on players’ off-the-field violence, including an immediate six-game suspension regardless of the legal process.

Then Peterson’s case emerged, and the NFL did nothing different.

Fortunately, the Vikings finally did the right thing Wednesday when the team suspended Peterson pending the outcome of charges he abused his 4-year-old son when he “whooped” him for bad behavior.

The Vikings’ decision to reactivate him Monday, citing their desire to let the court process determine his punishment, rightly drew intense national criticism.

Sadly, though, it took the language of money to wake up the Vikings and - hopefully - the NFL. Radisson Hotels’ announcement to suspend its Vikings sponsorship became the first of several multimillion- and even billion-dollar corporate sponsors that said “enough.”

Sure, dollar signs speak louder than protest signs to the NFL, but at least it forced the Vikings to make the right move.

Those sponsors now should demand the handling of Peterson’s case become leaguewide policy.

“Innocent until proven guilty” is the standard in the justice system, not for businesses and other organizations - especially for people in highly visible and leadership roles. Like it or not, those include professional athletes, most of whom sign contracts that bind them to certain behavior standards 24/7.

For the sake of protecting such an organization’s future, when a member violates terms of a contract, steps must be taken quickly, or one person’s actions can take down an entire organization.

Hopefully, Peterson’s case finally made the NFL realize that.


Albert Lea Tribune, Sept. 18

A basic guide for the pro athlete

If you are a professional sports athlete, making millions of dollars to entertain audiences near and far, by now - in the wake of the abuse scandals with NFL stars Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson - you surely realize the demands society places on you in terms of behavior. Why? Because our children look up to you as examples of working toward goals and achieving success.

Former pro basketball player Charles Barkley used to say: “I am not paid to be a role model. Parents should be role models.”

He is right, and he is wrong. Parents ought to be the ultimate role models. But many parents point out to children stars they admire, particularly pro athletes. And even if the parents don’t follow sports, many children on their own end up following them and find athletes they like.

Pro athletes, you are not just playing a game. You cannot escape the job of being examples to society.

Here is a handy, elementary primer on how to act if you A. wish to continue making millions of dollars and B. wish to avoid full-blown public scrutiny into your private life:

. Do not beat your wife or girlfriend or partner.

. Do not beat your children.

. Do not kick your dog.

. Do not throw your cat.

. Do not get in physical altercations with friends, enemies or even complete strangers.

. Do not hit anyone at any time ever outside of the legal contact required for your sport.

. Do not even threaten to hit anyone at any time ever. Or threaten to commit any act of violence.

. Do not commit sexual assault.

. Do not have multiple children by multiple women all out of wedlock. It’s legal, yes, but it’s not good parenting.

. Do not murder people or be connected to any acts of homicide or attempted homicide or manslaughter.

. Do not drink and drive.

. Do not drink beyond moderate levels in public.

. Do not take performance-enhancing substances.

. Do not take illegal drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, meth, crack, LSD and PCP. Even if marijuana becomes legal, just stay away from it in public settings until you retire. Its use sends the wrong message to children.

. Do not talk to or purchase prostitutes.

. Do not make racist comments or jokes.

. Do not break local, state and federal gun laws.

. Do not carry guns into stores or clubs, even if it is allowed. It’s just asking for trouble considering it is an already-delicate issue. You want to be known for sports, not the gun-rights debate.

. Do not commit fraud. Do not write bad checks.

. Do not argue with police officers, and do not lie to them.

. Do not steal from people. That includes this: Do not force rookies to pay for exorbitant meals and parties.

. Do not haze rookies to the point of bullying.

. Do not blow your millions of greenbacks on pipe-dream enterprises or multiple mansions and cars. Invest money soundly and live off dividends into a happy retirement. That is what fans actually imagine players doing with their dough.

. Do not rent a boat and have a big sex and booze party on it. For that matter, do not attend sex and booze parties.

. Do not push a traffic-control officer with your SUV for a half a block.

. Do not text photos of your private parts.

. Do not bash in the window of your wife’s SUV with a golf club after she got mad at you for fooling around.

You get the idea.

Do not do all the stupid things many young-but-suddenly-rich athletes sometimes do. Do not fall into these traps life sets before you. You have worked so hard to find success as a paid athlete, something so many other people only dreamed of as children. Don’t blow the rare opportunity. Be smart in the game of life and keep your head above water so you can go on collecting the big paychecks.

You might think you only work for the team owner, the coach or the general manager, but you actually work for the fans who pay tickets, watch or listen to TV and radio broadcasts of the games, buy merchandise and pass on their love for your sport to the next generation. Do not betray them, and they will make you rich.


The Free Press of Mankato, Sept. 15

Hear the cry of the loon before it’s gone

Instead of the canary in the coal mine to warn of impending danger, we could have the listless loon.

Because of climate change, the survival of loons and a number of other birds is at risk, according to a seven-year study by the prestigious National Audubon Society.

The critical ranges of more than half the 588 North American bird species will either shrink significantly or shift during the next six decades or so, threatening their survival either way, the study said. The loon, our Minnesota bird, is one of those sensitive species.

Bird watchers are well aware that birds seldom found in certain ranges before are now more commonly spotted. Although it might be a temporary joy to spot such birds without traveling, birders know it’s not a good sign from Mother Nature.

The report about birds at risk isn’t just alarming news for birders. Man-made change in climate affects all of us whether we own a pair of binoculars or not. The change of birds’ habitat means a change in our own habitat, including the foods we can grow, water availability, energy needs, pollution control.

Climate change is not a new topic, but it’s one what we have to keep in the spotlight. Waiting until the damage is done and then trying to fix it doesn’t work. Once the most sensitive birds are gone, they’re gone for good.

Action needs to be sooner than later. In that vein an environmental group at Minnesota State University is inviting campus and community members to provide input on how to reduce the university’s greenhouse gas emissions. The group is hosting a brainstorming session Sept. 24 so there are lots of ideas to choose from in determining a plan of how to reduce the campus’ carbon footprint.

Following through on ideas and implementing them will be the key for all communities, not just universities, in combating climate change at every level, including the local one.

The cry of the loon is an eerie one, but it would be more haunting to hear silence instead of their calls.

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