Are we tired of Beckham’s tantrums yet? Try to remember he’s still growing as a pro athlete and person
I didn’t want to have to do this, but here we go again.
Talking about, let alone defending a New York Giants player, twice, was not how I imagined my come up as a writer. This goes against everything I stand for being on the other side as an NFC East rival, yet here we are with part II.
Initially hearing about all of the Odell Beckham Jr. drama, I didn’t take the situation too seriously. We’ve seen outbursts happen in sports: the tirades, the rants, the attitudes. I didn’t see the big deal. I argued that sometimes it just comes with the territory of being passionate about your sport. And it does.
Then Beckham dropped “I’m not having fun anymore” on us.
Right when I was ready to go in on him about not being able to take criticism or shutting down when things didn’t go his way, I thought to myself, ‘What am I missing in this whole thing?’
One of the most entertaining athletes in our generation now publicly says he is not enjoying the game he claims to love so much. Contrary to popular belief, this is more than just a “he’s being a baby, get over it”-type of situation.
So, I wanted to step back and take another look at these Beckham incidents through another lens.
I’m honestly torn, though.
On one hand, there have been valid points made when it comes to a general attitude and sportsmanlike conduct in sports. As a professional and superstar athlete, there’s a level of responsibility you have to young fans. Young athletes shouldn’t have to look at Beckham’s recent behavior as acceptable in an athletic or professional setting.
It’s also a disservice to coddle an athlete who has such tremendous talent. That could possibly result in hindering him from reaching his full potential.
At the same time, those passionate, yet immature episodes are what come with the territory of being an athlete. You want to win, you get emotional, and outbursts happen.
Think about it this way. How many eye rolls, deep breaths or colorful commentaries have you had about a co-worker whom you’re not too fond of?
In Beckham’s case, he is lined up every week against someone who gets paid to frustrate him and take him out of his game. So, it’s inevitable to get irritated and lash out at the workplace, especially his. But there is a time, place and balance for everything.
So in short, I ain’t got the answers, Sway.
Therefore, I will not join the chorus of criticism or condone his actions. I’m not even going to offer him advice, because having never been a professional athlete, I can’t fully comprehend what it’s like to be in that position.
However, I would like to offer another perspective.
From what I understand, young athletes are confused. Their accelerated athletic growth often exceeds the rate at which they mature mentally. When their maturity progression doesn’t mirror their immense athletic development, we get perplexed as to why it’s so hard for them to act accordingly.
You’re in the limelight. You love it when they love you and get upset when they criticize you.
But the fact is our high expectations for a young athlete on the field are at the same level we expect to see in their personal conduct. However, that aspect of their professional life is usually still in progress.
Often, great talent makes it challenging for us as spectators to see the optimism in an individual’s opportunity for maturity. It’s easy to criticize when it’s difficult to understand why he just doesn’t get it.
Yes, Beckham’s youth contributes to the way he handles certain situations, which welcomes the invitation for criticism. And rightly so.
While the opinions, criticism and advice you have for Beckham may be valid, it’s also important to remember there is “room for growth” for everyone, including myself. All this need not be a negative phase in one’s career. It can actually lead to a promising one.
Take John McEnroe for instance. His outburst toward this umpire could have been interpreted as a downward spiral for the then 23-year-old’s tennis career. It actually happened more than once. However, from these moments he still went on to have one of the greatest tennis careers and a New York Times bestselling book.
Basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal had his moment as well. His frustrations caused him to speak quite candidly on live television to express his displeasure with the referees officiating one night. His attitude stole the best of him, yet he did not allow moments like that to define his Hall of Fame career.
If Beckham takes advantage of these opportunities to grow, there won’t be much to worry about. The reality of this Beckham saga is his passion for the game, room for maturity, incredible talent and desire for greatness are a magnificent recipe for a promising and influential professional career.