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Bird at Play: 'The Kids are Alright'

Everywhere you turn, the news is just downright awful. There's a shooting in the Columbia Mall killing three people in the same area that my wife was walking less than 16 hours earlier. Neighbors whose pipes have burst or friends who have lost their house during a holiday fire. Businesses closing as the still lagging economy can't turn quickly enough to keep them going.

And then there's the Justin Bieber disaster.

It's no wonder many are concerned about our country's future when the celebrities that represent the "Generation Z" are pulling stupid stunts. He's got plenty of company with Miley Cyrus, Amanda Bynes and rapper Keith Cozart, better known as "Chief Keef" whose pictures spread out across tabloid about as often as Alec Baldwin hosts "Saturday Night Live."

What you see from these kids all over the news with their missteps and wrong-doings is not a fair representation of the generation they represent. These kids are much brighter, more passionate, and much more interested in their future than for what most give them credit. If the worst thing these kids will face is that their unabashed dedication to living their entire lives through the filter-less world of social media, to steal some words from the great Pete Townshend, I think "The Kids are Alright."

One of our own learned just how powerful the flow of information is by the explosion of a "private" tweet to a close friend into a national sports news phenomenon when Megan Pettine's comments about her dad's hiring by the Cleveland Browns went viral.

I warn my own kids about it. I have a conversation with my soccer team every season and with students in the class about it. I'm sure the Pettines had the same conversation with their daughter. But, to a "T" they continue to exist in this public world and choose to do things their own way, and God bless them for it.

There is a lesson to be learned by all of us in this story. What you do, what you say, and certainly what you take a picture or video of can be shared around the world in a matter of minutes.

But the lesson that I took out of this had nothing to do with a young student making a simple mistake, but the way her father handled the situation.

The newly hired head coach of the Cleveland Browns, reaching the pinnacle of a career as a football coach, had to deal with a question at the end of his biggest press conference to date, not about his plans for the team but about his daughter's tweet. He tackled it head on to defend his daughter and focused on the lesson learned, asking for leniency for a mistake many of us have made but without the national implications.

Before we jump on the mistakes of a 19-year old girl with the fever pitch of a Richard Sherman post-game interview, think about how you would handle the same situation with your own kid. There's an old saying that goes, "While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about."

Well done, Mike. And good luck!

Reach rec sports columnist Robert Brown at 410-857-8552 or robert.brown@carrollcountytimes.com.

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