There is joy in Packerland this week as the Green Bay Packers clinched a first-round bye in the NFL playoffs. One singular item uniting many Cheeseheads is fandom for the green and gold. Many who disagree can cast aside their differences on game day.
When tuning into NFL action, my expectation is to watch a football game. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s a sport played for the entertainment of millions. I don’t watch for some sort of over-arching social justice message. I’m in the camp athletes should stand for the national anthem out of respect for those who provided freedoms you enjoy.
It is important and has become the fabric of many urban communities that professional sports teams seek to be positive influences for those communities in the charity and public service work by teams and athletes. Some may remember basketball player Charles Barkley in the ‘80s when he said “I am not a role model.” Barkley’s defense was kids should be looking to their own parents and others who could impact their lives in a more direct way than some sports figure. The reality, however, is that many youngsters, perhaps even more so in homes without much structure, look to idolize sports heroes.
Professional athletes have often ventured into the political arena after their playing days. Bill Bradley, Jim Bunning, Jack Kemp, and a host of others. Their professional sports background played a key role in their ability to step into those roles. Little if any attention was paid to the political leanings of most athletes in those days.
So it is that professional sports teams seek to make their presence known in their communities. The Packers are no different and have the Green Bay Packers Foundation as one mechanism for their charity work. A Dec. 19 Green Bay Press-Gazette story did a dive into the 2019 grants totaling more than $1 million. According to the story, a total of 192 grants ranging from $3,000 to $7,000 were awarded on Dec. 4.
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Much to the ardent dismay and anger of millions of pro-life Packers fans across Wisconsin and the nation, one of the recipients of a grant was Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest provider of abortion services.
The Packers Foundation response covered in the story stated the funds were for a program targeting Latino families in Southeastern Wisconsin. Not to disparage that individual initiative, but funds given to an organization like Planned Parenthood free up other resources for other purposes, including abortion.
This past state legislative session brought a series of bills regarding the importance of early life, and funding for organizations like Planned Parenthood. Four bills passed through the legislature, then were vetoed by Gov. Tony Evers. Facts shared at a May 7 public hearing included testimony that there are 162 facilities across the state providing the same services provided at the 22 Planned Parenthood locations, aside from abortion, covering a much wider geographic population.
Planned Parenthood promotes a mantra that only 3.4% of the services provided are abortion. This assertion falls apart quickly because only a portion of the women, actual numbers not provided, seeking services are pregnant, and a smaller number would be part of an “unwanted” pregnancy. More telling statistics are available from Planned Parenthood’s own annual report, including a statement they served 2.4 million patients. Planned Parenthood performed 332,767 abortions in the same reporting period, meaning 1 in 8 patients were provided an abortion. Additionally, another fact is they made 2,831 adoption referrals. The baby carried in an “unwanted” pregnancy had a less than 1% chance of reaching an adoptive home. Isn’t that a sad commentary? Why does any organization, let alone the Green Bay Packers, provide support?
Millions of parents, both natural and adoptive, often reflect on the watershed moment of becoming parents, and how it changed their lives in myriad ways. Many perhaps thought themselves not fully ready for the challenges of parenthood but found a way to make it work. Why do we presume so many are not capable of providing homes?
Loyalty to a sports team is often deep-rooted. We often do Monday-morning quarterbacking to question decisions made on the field, but it’s a bit unusual to wonder about decisions aside from the game. Some will cheer the move with enthusiasm. For a few fans, it may signal the end. For many more, such a move will leave a sour taste, and perhaps make them less likely to fork over dollars for merchandise or tune in on Sundays. We’re used to moments of disappointment on game day. It’s a tougher day to be disappointed in them off the field.
Scott Frostman lives in Baraboo and has roots throughout Wisconsin. He believes anyone can make a difference and can be reached at email@example.com.