The Cautionary Tale of Todd Marinovich

 Posted by on 17 January 2011 at 8:00 am  Parenting, Sports
Jan 172011

As a followup to Diana’s recent post on parenting styles (“Compare and Contrast“), some readers may recall the sad story of Todd Marinovich.

Todd Marinovich was groomed (and pushed) from birth by his father Marvin to be an NFL quarterback. And he ended up crashing and burning in the national spotlight. Two interesting stories about Marinovich illustrate the consequences of the senior Marinovich’s nightmare parenting style.

The first story (“Bred To Be A Superstar“) was written in 1988, when Marinovich was a high school football superstar trying to decide with big name college to attend. At that time, his future was seemingly bright with limitless possibilities.

Note the recurrent theme of how much the father was sacrificing for his son’s future success, and how little say the son had in his life decisions:

Though Marv owns an athletic research center — a sort of high-tech gym — his true occupation has been the development of his son, an enterprise that has yet to produce a monetary dividend. And the Marinovich marriage ended last year after 24 years. “All Marv has done,” says a friend, “is give up his entire life for Todd.”

This is sadly reminiscent of the character of Peter Keating from The Fountainhead, whose mother “sacrificed” to push Peter into the field of architecture (and away from his natural love of painting) — with tragic results that unfold during the novel.

The second story was written in 2009, looking back on the younger Marinovich’s tragically wasted life. I thought the title (“Todd Marinovich: The Man Who Never Was“) was especially apropos. The teaser paragraph summarizes the main theme, but the whole article is worth reading:

Twenty years ago, he was guaranteed to be one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play the game of football. Engineered to be. He was drafted ahead of Brett Favre. Today he’s a recovering junkie. Scenes from the chaotic life of a boy never designed to be a man in the 2010 National Magazine Award winner for profile writing.

No child can become a full human being when his parents fail to teach him how to practice rational, independent decision-making, and instead attempt to impose their own “central purpose” on him.

The Marinovich saga of flame-out, drug addiction, and jail are unsurprising consequences when a parent fails to help teach a child how to live a first-handed life.

Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha