Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Would it be so bad?

In the movie Blindside the story is told of Michael Oher. His story includes an investigation. According to Wikepedia,
The National Collegiate Athletic Association suspected that the Tuohys had taken Oher in and added him to their will in order to secure his services as a player for their favorite college.
Now let me ask you a question. Would that be so bad? What if some fairly wealthy families rescued inner city kids, especially those in foster care, free for adoption, and adopted them just so they could play football for their favorite school? Would the world be a worse place if a few less kids were living in foster care or the projects and in affluent homes getting tutored and playing sports?I think the NCAA should encourage it. Would it be so bad?


TTBoot said...

I think it would be a win win situation all the way around. OK the parents are recruiting a football for their alma mater, but the kid is the true winner. Not only does he get a family, opportunities are opened up for him that didn't exist before, playing college football, going to college and all the experiences connecting with that. And given the low percentage of foster kids that go to college...

brenkachicka said...

Not bad at all. Think of the opportunities those kids would have. Then think of the ways they can benefit their communities when they are successful adults. They can go back and do more for kids who are in situations like they once were.

Little Wonder said...

it all comes down to race, right? A poor black kid being taken advantage of by an affluent white family...

probably won't take long for sharpton to get involved with this one.

sorry. hope that didn't stir the pot too much. just delete it if it does.

FAScinated said...

Shouldn't the bigger concern be that a person like this had talent but before this family nobody gave him an opportunity?

Many kids will not have the kind of talent that the world rewards with money or trophies but I hope this movie still conveys to society the message that all have value. ~Kari

Jersey Guy said...

Yeah, right. That's why we had children; my hubby and I were hoping they'd grow up to become multi-billionaires and support us in our old age.
I think that accusation is ridiculous but then foster parents are accused of ridiculous things sometimes, like being in it for the $$$$
Maybe they adopted him because they were fans of the 70s TV show, Different Strokes and they were hoping he'd say amusing one-liners like, "What cho talkin' 'bout, Willis?"
But to answer the question, no, it wouldn't be bad at all.

flacius1551 said...

Yeah, it is bad. Sorry to have to disagree about this, but this is just as bad as adopting a kid because of his desirable race or because he is likely to be a piano prodigy. My feeling about this is exacerbated because I teach at a school with an important football program and I see all the time how players are recruited and then discarded by the team when they don't fit. If football players actually profited in the main from being at these huge universities, maybe there'd be a counterargument, but as even the NCAA acknowledges, graduation rates of student athletes in football programs are pitiful. At my university the football programs shunt the students into courses that they can pass, so they are hardly getting the benefit of the challenges of the university. To be fair to the football academic coordinators, most of their players probably couldn't pass even the basic courses in our programs without significant help, and there's no reason to put a kid in a course he has no chance of passing. But to me, your question is essentially 'why is it bad to adopt a kid in order to groom him for a role in an exploitative situation?".

I feel bad about this response. Sincere apologies to you personally for having to disagree with you here.

Claudia said...

well, I don't necessarily disagree with what you are saying, Flacius. And you can disagree with me anytime you want. I like discussion.

But for the sake of argument..... would a child be worse off being adopted out of foster care by a middle class or wealthy family and put into a football program -- even if that program was a bit exploitive -- than aging out of foster care with no family?

My thinking simply is this: regardless of motivation, good things can come out of taking in a kid. Maybe I'm idealistic...

flacius1551 said...

I absoutely agree with the motivation part of your argument. It really doesn't matter why someone decides to do a good thing. But Michael Oher is a strong exception of success in a setting that defeats most of its participants. I suppose if the parents' attitude were "we'll do this for football, and love the kid even if he doesn't turn into a star" it might be ok, but what happens when the kid doesn't turn into the next top college player? If people are choosing their children based on their abilities, what happens if the child turns out not to have the ability, or even just the desired skill? Won't they be inclined to look for a "better" child, then?

Claudia said...

I think that most people who would be willing to take in a kid and then support them and deal with what we do every day would most likely not be the kind of people who would stop loving the kid even if he wasn't any good at the sport.

I'm guess I was just annoyed that in the true story of Michael (which was an exception to the rule for sure) the NCAA would actually think that people would be willing to do that much JUST for the sake of recruiting for the team. In his case they didn't even know if he could play football when they took him in.

And I can't imagine that my love for my alma mater would be enough to take the risks that they took .... they had to have been motivated by something else or they wouldn't have done it. I think that the NCAA overestimated the commitment of folks to their own teams. If it were really a trend or phenomenon maybe but it isn't. Face it. People don't invite inner city foster kids to live with them just because they might be good in sports.

I agree with Kari - we never know what is buried inside of a kid..... many have gifts nobody will discover if they don't have permanency.

OK, I'm getting way off track here so I'll shut up.

flacius1551 said...

Sorry to be a pain, but if they were picking poor kids up off the streets without knowing whether they would be good football players, then they wouldn't be doing it in order to improve their alma mater's football teams. That was my understanding of the film anyway; that someone else who actually abandoned him later sold the school on educating Mr. Oher in order to get his own kid in; that the Tuohys took in Mr. Oher because they became concerned about him when he appeared to be homeless; that he started playing football because sports was their family hobby, etc.

Claudia said...

You aren't being a pain and agreed, most people would never do this. I think that the Tuohy's motives were pure.

I am still not sure that the NCAA should have questioned their motives. It's pretty far fetched to think people would go that far.

I liked the movie in spite of everything else because it does show that a lot of these older teens do have potential ... and that they aren't impossible. In fact, some of them are downright delightful.

If you could meet Leon and Ricardo you would know exactly what I"m talking about.

flacius1551 said...

I spend much of my work time with late adolescents and early post-adolescents, so I certainly agree with you that older kids have lots of potential AND that they need nurturing. This is true, by the way, not only of older adolescents without homes, but of all older adolescents. It's a very insecure time. People who say they'll be done with parenting at 18 or even 21 are kidding themselves.

flacius1551 said...

Oh, and the NCAA has really seen it all. It's amazing the lengths that people will go to to recruit the "right" players.

Claudia said...

Pat O'Brien of You Gotta Believe couldn't get the comments to work, but emailed me with his two cents, which I'm passing on to you:

Well maybe it wouldn't be "so" bad. For instance, is it "so" bad that people parent "for" the money? Well that's bad. But is it "so" bad? Some parents are financially empowered to parent because there is a subsidy or stipend. That's not bad at all. However, some parents parent solely because of the subsidy or stipend. That's bad. But in some people's mind, perhaps, not "so" bad assuming the family is not abusive or neglecful in any way.

The family depicted in Blind Side, according to the movie, were doing everything for the right reason. I was very happy at the end of the movie that the mom suggested that Micheal go to Tennessee rather than Mississippi. This family's heart was in the right place, again according to the movie.

So I guess you are right that it would not be "so" bad for the youth. But can a youth even survive in a family whose expectation is that they must be a star big enough to get a scholorship to a major college? The pressure to succeed would sink alot of kids. The family in the Blind Side didn't know, again according to the movie, that they had a football star in their mist. They knew they had a kind gentle soul who needed some help and they offered that help. Had they just done it to make the kid a football star, and that had been their sole motivation, I think that would be bad but maybe not "so" bad. But Michael might not have been able to survive in that family environment had he felt that the family's sole motiviation was for him to become a football start. It seems that Michael was able to survive because of the family's kindness and his belief that they really did care about him.

That's just my two cents.

tashapork said...

I think the people who come up with these ideas are making several incorrect assumptions
1. The only problem with his previous environment was poverty and that the Tohoys were simply giving him more financial opportunity.
2. That had the Tohoys not stepped in, someone in his previous environment would have and made college, and football a viable option for him.
3. That there were a line of people wanting to step up and take him in and the Tuhoys got the privilege due to their wealth
4. That an adult has that much influence and control over a child especially one with Michaels background.
His mom says that Michael succeeded because of what was in him and would have been successful irregardless of the Tuhoys, but they did what parents do and supported him so that he could find the doors open to him