The sports world was rattled yet again this week following the announcement from John Skipper, President of the world famous sports broadcasting network ESPN, of his resignation. Skipper cited his struggles with substance use and addiction as the reason for the statement, and it has brought to mind a few important factors that people often forget about addiction.
Skipper will also be resigning from the position of co-chairman of the Disney Media Networks.
Declaration from ESPN President
In his statement on Monday, Skipper states:
“Today I have resigned from my duties as President of ESPN. I have had a wonderful career at the Walt Disney Company and am grateful for the many opportunities and friendships. I owe a debt to many, but most profoundly Michael Lynton, George Bodenheimer and Bob Iger.
Skipper went on to say,
I have struggled for many years with a substance addiction. I have decided that the most important thing I can do right now is to take care of my problem,”
According to Skipper, he and the company came to a mutual agreement that it was appropriate for him to resign. He went on to state:
“I come to this public disclosure with embarrassment, trepidation and a feeling of having let others I care about down. As I deal with this issue and what it means to me and my family, I ask for appropriate privacy and a little understanding.”
Skipper has been the ESPN President since 2012, after joining the Disney-owned network back in 1997. According to Bob Iger, CEO of Walt Disney Company, former ESPN President George Bodenheimer will serve as Acting Chair of ESPN for 90 days until a more permanent replacement has been found.
Bob Iger made his own statement supporting Skipper’s decision and showing his respect for Skipper. Bodenheimer also issued a statement, saying:
“I have great respect for John’s leadership, and I applaud the courage he’s demonstrating by addressing his challenge head on. The most important thing right now for John and his family is that he conquers his addiction, and the entire ESPN family is behind him.”
As the transition takes place, many seem to be supporting the ESPN President in his choice to step down and face his addiction. Thus far there haven’t been many specifics as to which substances Skipper struggles with, which is consistent with his request for privacy.
Addiction for Professionals
This is far from the first time we have seen an issue with substance abuse come up in the world of professional sports. Even with coaches and owners, substance abuse is not as uncommon as some might think. Back in October the video of Miami Dolphins offensive line coach Christ Forester snorting lines of white powder surfaced online and created an overnight viral controversy. While the story with John Skipper may be a bit different, they both remind us that even high-profile professionals struggle with substance use and addiction.
Too many people still have this idea that addiction is about moral failures, or lack of willpower, or simply the lack of character and ambition. Yet, time and time again we see stories of incredibly talented, successful, ambitious and influential people struggling with addiction. And it isn’t just rock stars and celebrity actors; we also see it in CEOs and high-ranking business people. We see it in star athletes and in politicians. Every level of success experiences the impact of addiction.
So it is sad to see Skipper say he is embarrassed to have to make this announcement. Even though he is brave to do it, it reminds us also of the stigma even he still might believe.
So we have to support those who are struggling and stop letting the stigma of addiction keep people from getting better by seeking the help that may ultimately save their lives.
The business owner or high earner might not seek help because of how they think people will see them. They might be afraid that being vulnerable will have others question their business. How will this reflect on my work? How will it reflect on my company? Will it destroy my professional reputation to get the help I need?
These are questions no one should ever have to ask.
Functioning Addicts Suffer
Many professionals might even consider themselves to be “functioning addicts,” meaning that even though they are in the grips of addiction physically, mentally and emotionally, they are still able to go on working, going to school or being active at home.
Again, this is a strong example that goes against the stigma people often associate with addiction. Too many people assume that for someone to be truly struggling with addiction, they have to lose their house, job, family, etc. But in reality, people with addiction can be fully-functioning members of society. Addicts can be excellent at their jobs, active in their families or communities, and even take good care of themselves in all respects other than using drugs or alcohol.
However, functioning addicts still suffer greatly. Often this manifests with internal suffering, mental and emotional. They don’t always “hit rock bottom” in the sense of their career, finances or home life. Sometimes it is everything going on inside that causes them the most turmoil.
Sadly, functioning addicts are also less likely to seek the help they need. They will believe that as long as they are working, taking care of the bills and not getting into much trouble, they are still in control. They are more likely to have people around them who do not understand addiction telling them their issues are not that serious. There is no telling how long ESPN President John Skipper was living as a functioning addict. The same goes for many professionals who have been struggling and are afraid that if they admit they need help, they will lose it all.
Addiction does not discriminate. It does not care what your net worth is. It never checks your credit score and it never asks for a resume.
Times are Changing
Luckily, over the past few years, the perception of addiction has begun to experience a cultural shift. Those who struggle with substance use and addiction now have more options for getting help. There are a variety of personalized treatment programs that offer effective and supportive solutions while encouraging people across all demographics to stay informed and seek help.
These days we see more celebrities, athletes, and professionals reaching out, getting help and speaking up about the dangers of addiction. The ESPN President is one of many public figures this year who has spoken up about the problems they have faced and reminded us how important it is to find help.
It is great to be reminded that times are indeed changing and that the stigma of addiction doesn’t have as much power as it once did. While there are still plenty of people across the world who still rely on these old ideas about addiction, much more are learning to better understand addiction and helping support those who need help.
Hopefully, with professionals from such high platforms stepping up to talk about their struggles, we will continue to see more executives, officials and business owners get the help they need.
Addiction is not one-size-fits-all, and neither is recovery. Palm Partners Recovery Center believes in supporting each individual through a personalized recovery plan to help them find an effective path. We want to help people who suffer get back to what matters most. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
This Monday Christ Forester, the offensive line coach from the Miami Dolphins, resigned from his position after 25 years in the NFL. Forester was one of the highest paid assistants in the league, even though he only became a Dolphins coach a year ago. His recent departure from the coaching staff comes only 12 hours after a video of him snorting a white powdery substance off an office desk went viral.
So what does this recent scandal tell us about drug abuse?
A Social Media Scandal
The 56-second video shows Forester himself appears to be filming while speaking into the camera. During the course of the video Forester states:
“Hey baby, miss you, thinking about you,” he says to the camera. He says he is about to go into a meeting and is “doing this before I go.”
Kijuana Nige, a Las Vegas model, first posted the video on Sunday to Facebook. It has since been deleted. At one point on the post to the social media site, Nige had stated people were upset with her actions “like I forced blown down this man’s nose” with the term “blow” being commonly known as slang for the illegal drug cocaine.
Screen-captured images of a post on Twitter with pictures from the video also show Nige stating:
“Those are his habits and he recorded himself and sent it to me professing his love.”
Kijuana Nige also claims that she used to date the Dolphins coach, and sources indicate the video was recorded sometime this year.
The Football Fall-Out
Other parts of the caption in the comments take on a more political tone, as Nige talks about posting the video and exposing the Dolphins coach as a way to respond to the backlash against black NFL players who are participating in protests of police brutality on the sidelines of football games.
The video was posted the same day that it was reported the Dolphins head coach Adam Gase has made it a team rule that players are required to stand for the Anthem. Apparently, players who do not wish to stand for the National Anthem on the Dolphins team must stay in the tunnel during the ceremony.
In her social media crusade, Nige has also implied that she has other videos she could make public. She states:
“They better leave ppl (people) like Colin Kaepernick alone before I pick off more of’ em”
Of course, this refers to the 49ers former quarterback who was the first player to take a knee and vocalize his reasons for protesting.
Following the growing controversy of the viral video, the Dolphins coach made a statement saying,
“I am resigning from my position with the Miami Dolphins and accept full responsibility for my actions,”…”I want to apologize to the organization and my sole focus is on getting the help that I need with the support of my family and medical professionals.”
The Dolphins also made a public statement that included:
“We were made aware of the video late last night and have no tolerance for this behavior.”
“Although Chris is no longer with the organization, we will work with him to get the help he needs during this time.”
While the Dolphins made it clear that they had accepted Foresters resignation immediately, they still say are going to support Forester in getting help, which may mean some addiction treatment or other recovery resources.
Exposing Drug Abuse
Of course, this isn’t the first time some form of public figure in the sports world has been exposed for drug use. Even coaches in high school, college or professional sports have been caught from time to time in some kind of drug scandal. In some cases, it is performance enhancing. Other times it is the recreational use of illicit drugs.
However, this is the only time (at least that I have ever heard of) that a viral video has shown an NFL coach in the act of consuming drugs. So it is a unique case.
Yet, when drug abuse is exposed in the media it actually reveals the best and the worst of our reactions to issues concerning drug abuse and addiction. Some people will immediately begin to demonize the individual. But the better side we get to see is that at least the Dolphins franchise has said they will support his efforts to get help. In a way, a story like this points again to the very real fact that anyone can struggle with drug abuse. Celebrities, decorated athletes, and even extremely successful professionals can struggle with substance use.
If we can accept an NFL coach has made a mistake but is willing to step down and get help, maybe we can show more compassion to those around us who need help; maybe we need to have more compassion for ourselves. Either way, instead of stirring up more contention and controversy let us support those who need a way out.
In recovery from drug abuse and addiction, we are all on the same team. It’s easy to see how substance abuse affects more than the average individual. Even celebrities and professionals can get caught in the grips. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Shernide Delva
In 2008, America watched on the edge of their seats as Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps went for not one, not two, but eight gold medals in Beijing. It was an accomplishment that far exceeded any other athlete prior. Flash-forward to fall of 2014 and that same Olympic swimmer was curled in a fetal position in his Baltimore home, embarrassed by his recent public behavior and uncertain of his future…
On the night of Monday, Sept. 29, 2014 at 1:40 a.m., Phelps was driving home to the Horseshoe-Casino near Baltimore Harbor when he was stopped by an officer with the Maryland Transportation Authority. Phelps was clocked by police driving 84 mph in a 45-mph zone.
Police observed Phelps driving erratically and after Phelps faulted two sobriety-tests, he was given a breathalyzer test. The breathalyzer test revealed his blood-alcohol level to be at .14 above the state driving limit of .08. As a result he was charged with a DUI, excessive speed and crossing double lane lines. Last December, he pleaded guilty to the DUI charge.
This is not the first time we have heard of Phelps run-ins with the law. Rewind a decade and you’ll find Phelps at 19, fresh from the Athens Olympic, soon pleading guilty to driving while impaired. In 2009, Phelps was entangled in controversy after a photo was published to the tabloids of him smoking a bong. Consequently, Phelps was banned for three months by USA Swimming.
But this arrest was worse, much worse. The speed and level of intoxication hinted that Phelps might have a bigger problem; A problem with addiction. Even Brian Shea, a pharmaceutical sales and one of Phelps’s best friends was mortified when he found discovered the news:
“I pulled over and read the message, and I called my wife and said, ‘You’re kidding, right?’ ” says Shea. “I just slinked down in my seat right there next to the road. I felt so disappointed.”
The decorated athlete was devastated that he had, once again, let his fans and those who looked up to him down and could barely accept his mistake.
“It was bad,” says Shea. “It was every bit as bad as you would imagine. You could see he was feeling the weight of his actions. He knows he has kids who look up to him. He has his foundation. He knew he let people down, and he had no idea exactly what was going to happen.”
As a result, Phelps was admitted to The Meadows, a private rehab facility in Arizona which, according the company’s website is the nation’s premier program for treating trauma, alcohol, sex and drug addiction and a host of other conditions. Although very nervous, Phelps hopped on a plan and spent the next 45 days in the treatment center.
Phelps said that he was initially cold and kept to himself. However, after finding out he was suspended by USA Swimming for six month and banned from participating in the 2015 world championships, he says he finally realized where he was. About five days in, Phelps began to loosen his view on rehab and instead treated in as a completion:
“I thought, O.K., I’m going to go with this. I’m here for 45 days, let’s see what I can get out of it. I wound up uncovering a lot of things about myself that I probably knew, but I didn’t want to approach,” he says.
“One of them was that for a long time, I saw myself as the athlete that I was, but not as a human being. I would be in sessions with complete strangers who know exactly who I am, but they don’t respect me for things I’ve done, but instead for who I am as a human being. I found myself feeling happier and happier. And in my group, we formed a family. We all wanted to see each other succeed. It was a new experience for me. It was tough. But it was great.”
Upon his exit, Phelps went straight back to focusing on his number one passion: swimming. He now believes he is now motivated as ever to compete for Rio 2016. He says that this Olympics will undoubtedly be his last and he looks forward to ending strong. With Rio now only nine months away, only time will tell if we will see the Phelps that dominated return to the water once again.
Comebacks are powerful and for some, it takes hitting your bottom to realize it is time to finally get help. Get help for you addiction before you hurt yourself or someone else. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.