Justin Ricklefs is outraged at the backlash, criticism, and mockery that is being foisted on Bill Belichick for a simple fatherly act of affection. We may just need a #LikeaDad movement.
The firestorm around Bill Belichick kissing his 30 year old daughter on the lips following the Patriots' Super Bowl win is absurd. And it shows how far we still have to go before a father's affection is the norm and not the exception.
My own father is 73 years old. He's a veteran of the United States Air Force. And he kisses me on the lips (we've crept more towards the cheek the last decade or so) each time he sees me. He's been doing that since before I can remember.
Weird? Sure many of you will think so. Matt Lauer's dad seems to do the same thing.
Now as a dad to five children (four girls and one boy) of my own, I do the same thing too.
Are we so critical of men showing love and affection that when a father kisses his daughter, it's national news?! The answer, apparently, is yes.
The backlash and outrage porn that Belichick's kiss stirred up makes me hope that another stirring will happen too. One that shows more dads showing affection to their children. Of course the assumption has to be that this affection is appropriate. But to hide behind that assumption is weak, lame even. And as The Good Men Project's own Mark Greene has explained, it has a hugely adverse impact on all men:
In American culture, we believe that men can never be entirely trusted in the realm of the physical. We collectively suspect that, given the opportunity, men will collapse into the sexual at a moment's notice. That men don't know how to physically connect otherwise. That men can't control themselves. That men are dogs . . . And where does this leave men? Physically and emotionally isolated.
What if instead of criticizing this kiss, we celebrated it?
Having worked in the NFL for 5 years, I know firsthand what those coaches put themselves through, let alone their families. The hours. The travel. The film study. The pressure. Sure, the money and fame they receive are great, but don't think for a minute that it doesn't come with a price. Most often that price comes at the expense of the family.
Perhaps the story line should be that this 30 year old woman still loves her dad enough to celebrate with him after one of the biggest nights of his career?
Or perhaps it should be that Belichick loves his daughter enough to kiss her in front of the world? I'm sure he couldn't care less about this firestorm, my guess is he was grateful to share that moment with his daughter.
In an NFL season that brought us hurtful and destructive physical touch from big names like Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice, can't be take this moment to break the age-old stereotype that dads should be tough, gritty, hard, disengaged?
A coach that's known for his lack of emotion in press conferences actually showed some amazing motion to his daughter, and we criticize it?
The tide is turning though. Men are realizing how critical it is to be involved with their kids, especially their daughters. Dads are becoming emotionally present, not just physically present. Dads are hugging, kissing and holding hands. Dads are laying on hard floors in dark rooms to keep their kids from being scared while they fall asleep.
Shouldn't we celebrate this instead of punishing it?
In a game that gave us the terrific message to celebrate throwing #LikeaGirl, perhaps what we need next is to celebrate kissing #LikeaDad
Thanks for the kiss Coach. Dads like us are grateful for your example.
By Justin Ricklefs, Sports Editor at The Good Men Project