Sports are important, as they provide physical exercise and personal camaraderie, but to make a fetish of anything in life is always disastrous.
So it is with sports, as we see all too often in these days when Americans have so much time, money, and freedom (all of which are good things, of course, and are great blessings when used properly).
The Associated Press reports just such an incident this week:
Upset that his 7-year-old son wouldn’t wear a Green Bay Packers jersey during the team’s playoff victory Saturday, a man restrained the boy for an hour with tape and taped the jersey onto him.
Mathew Kowald was cited for disorderly conduct in connection with the incident with his son at their home in Pardeeville, Lt. Wayne Smith of the Columbia County Sheriff’s Department said. Pardeeville is about 30 miles north of Madison.
The 36-year-old Kowald was arrested Monday after his wife told authorities about the incident. Kowald was taken to the county jail and held until Wednesday, when he pleaded no contest, paid a fine of $186 and was released.
It was a stupid and silly thing to make a big deal over, to be sure. Yet there seems to me to be a bit more to this.
First, it seems to me that the boy should have worn the jersey even though he didn’t want to, as parents do have authority over their children. Sure, the father was being asinine, but would hardly have killed the lad to wear the jersey. It’s not as if it were made of tarantulas (at least according to the AP story).
In addition, defying a parent ought to earn some sort of punishment, even if the parent is wrong. Was this punishment the proper one? Probably not, as restraining a child physically should only be done in order to prevent the child from harming themself or others (or very temporarily in order to inflict corporal punishment in cases of severe importance).
Finally, should the government have been involved in this dispute? It seems to me that the answer is decidedly no. Undoubtedly the mother feared that if her husband would do this to their child, he might to anything, and it was important to call the cops to teach him a lesson.
Which is exactly what the father was trying to do to the child.
So the mother was wrong.
What about the arresting officers and the court?
The police certainly shouldn’t have arrested him. This was a domestic disturbance, after all, and that is a category of police activity in which some real judgment ought to be used. The government really should stay out of people’s homes, and when people call for help, the police should calm things down and get out, unless they perceive a serious danger to the individuals in the household.
In the current instance the latter appears definitely not to have been the case. The police officers should have calmed the situation, told the father to use better judgment in future, and told the family to be more reasonable with one another—and department procedures should establish that as the proper course of action.
Given that the father pleaded no contest, the judge appears to have been absolved of any responsibility in the matter. If it had gone to court, he would have had little choice but to deal with the situation and rebuke all parties involved for their asininity.
No one here acted wisely or correctly.