'ManKINDness' redefines masculinity

Rules of the game, rules of life: ManKINDness

We start ‘em young, carpooling all over North Texas to play hours and hours of sports.

Coach Joe Ehrmann, an NFL advisor and former player, says we aren’t winning.

“The longer students play, the higher levels they achieve, the more morally and ethically callous they become. There is something leukemic in the system with moral development,” says Joe Ehrmann.

Remember the viral Ray Rice video.

Roger Goodell called on Ehrmann in that crisis.

“Roger turned to me and said, ‘Would you speak to coaching character? Can you coach character to alleviate these situations?’ I said No. You can’t build moral character on faulty masculinity,” Ehrmann said.

New Friends New Life is a non-profit helping the 79,000 children sexually trafficked on our streets in Texas. Their ManKINDness program is run by men, for men, to rethink, educate and teach what the word "man" really means.

Jeremy Hodge is the star quarterback at Parish Episcopal School of Dallas.

“I think in the sports world, they feel like they have more power under their belt and feel like they can do anything they want,” says Hodge.

His team embraced ManKINDness to talk respect, and learn warning signs for women in trouble.

He’s witnessed real life situations already.

“It’s so subtle. You can’t really see it, but you have to look out for it. I felt powerless as a person,” he said.

WFAA's Shelly Slater asked, “And now you feel?”

“Empowered,” he said. “Like I can help control that situation.”

Help not on the field, but off, where it really counts.

Ehrmann says education and empowerment will help social issues like sex trafficking and domestic violence get better, a message he’s implementing throughout Arlington ISD.

“There is this ‘man box’ and we are all told we need to conform to this cultural concept of masculinity. Control, power, dominance. And when men don’t conform to the cultural box, they are called all kinds of things,” said Ehrmann.

So he’s coaching NFL teams, including the Cowboys, while teaming up with the University Interscholastic League and the Texas High School Coaches Association to take this statewide.

“I have worked with 40,000 coaches in the last 3 years and not one of them has an education based job description. Here’s the ball, here are the X’s and O’s, go do it,” he said.

He says a transformational statement is step one. How will you affect the lives of your players?

“Once I understood what my purpose was, I could take every goal, every speech, every interaction with parents, and build it around my purpose. My goal was to win, but character was my purpose,” said Ehrmann.

“To get the parents to buy in that it’s not just about the win is pretty tough,” said Slater. “Many parents have been caught in a rip tide of win at all costs. It’s about self-promotion of children. I always say the most competitive sport in America is parenting,” Ehrmann said.

But with parent support and school system buy in, change is happening.

Slater asked, “When you are in there, do you feel hope?”

“I have a tremendous sense of hope. It’s kind of like teachers with test scores. You don’t get into teaching to produce just scores. No, you want to mold their lives. Coaches need to be allowed to breathe. They need to be hired on transformative power,” said Ehrmann.

Not transactional wins.

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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