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Editorial: Rodman’s deadbeat example

Former basketball player Dennis Rodman sits news conference Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall Fame Springfield Mass. Thursday Aug. 11 2011.

Former basketball player Dennis Rodman sits at a news conference at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., Thursday, Aug. 11, 2011. Rodman will be inducted into the Hall on Friday. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

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Updated: July 6, 2012 10:24AM

A lot of deadbeat dads say they’re flat broke and that’s why they don’t pay child support, leaving Little Sally to walk around in shoes with holes.

And then there’s Dennis Rodman.

Who constantly reminds us of what this really is all about — a lack of character.

Rodman, who may or may not be broke, depending on which of his well-paid accountants and lawyers is talking, has failed for years to keep up with his court-ordered child-support payments. He’s been a deadbeat dad for so long that a California court last week sentenced him to three years of informal probation and 104 hours of community service — and basically told him to grow up.

“My suggestion is to use your talents as a motivator, as a fine, fine athlete and as a fine person, to assist others in need,” Barry Michaelson, a California Court commissioner, told Rodman in court.

This deadbeat parent stuff is complicated. We know that. While it is true, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, that about 22 percent of custodial mothers receive not a penny of the child support to which they are entitled, it is also true that not every dad who falls behind is an automatic deadbeat. Some mothers let payments slide because they know the dad is broke, or the parents work out something unofficially, without involving the law.

But, by anybody’s measure, at least 7 percent of non-custodial parents fail to pay child support because they’re unadulterated deadbeats, ducking court orders and stiffing the kids. If this were only about their ability to pay, they could seek reduced payments in court.

In the last two years, the Cook County state’s attorney’s office handled more than 23,000 cases of deadbeat parents. Many more cases, such as that of Rep. Joe Walsh, were handled by private attorneys.

To check out names and photos of some of the worst offenders, go to, a website maintained by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services.

When Rodman played for the Bulls, we thought well of him, outrageous as he was. We loved the way he rebounded. We liked his free spirit.

That dress he wore to a book signing? Exquisite taste.

But how much more we would admire Rodman today if only he followed the one rule that should matter most to a father: Love, care and provide for the children you bring into this world.

How much more we would admire all deadbeat dads.

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