Charlie Riedel, Associated Press
Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore watches a workout during spring training baseball practice Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019, in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

SALT LAKE CITY — Dayton Moore can’t remember a day in his life he hasn’t thought or dreamed about baseball.

Yet when the Kansas native was offered a position as the general manager of the Kansas City Royals, his boyhood team, everyone assured him that taking the job with the then-losing franchise would be a “professional graveyard.”

His family moved anyway, eager to “do something special... stand up for what we thought was right and use our expertise and passion for baseball as a platform to simply try to do good,” Moore told a group of 2,000-plus attendees on Saturday at the annual Utah Coalition Against Pornography conference in Salt Lake City.

And he believes he has, just maybe not in the way some expected.

After nearly three decades of being involved with baseball, he was noticing things that concerned him.

Whether it was unpaid incidentals at hotels, emotional confessions to fellow players or dysfunctional relationships with players’ girlfriends or wives, he began to see that “every major issue that we dealt with... traced back to pornography."

“That clubhouse is a living breathing organism,” he continued. “Players aren’t assets, they’re not commodities, they’re people, and the struggles in the clubhouse are the same struggles that people deal with in our neighborhoods, cities, country and around the world.”

So last year during spring training, Moore asked Fight the New Drug, a nonprofit anti-pornography activist group, to come talk to his players about pornography and what it can do to people — the first major league team to tackle the topic so directly.

" When we continue to look the other way, it’s not going to get better. What you permit, you promote, what you fail to confront, you condone. "
Dayton Moore

“When we continue to look the other way, it’s not going to get better,” Moore said. “What you permit, you promote, what you fail to confront, you condone. I don’t sleep at night when we don’t confront issues that are hurting our team, our family, our community.”

Because baseball requires so much concentration, “anything that robs you of your concentration is an issue,” Moore said. But even if porn doesn’t affect his players’ immediate game, Moore said he’s compelled to talk about this issue for the sake of his players’ kids or future families.

Just like team leaders talk with athletes about domestic violence, financial responsibility, how to manage their social media lives or talk with the media, Moore believes it’s his responsibility to warn his team about something that is “destroying our kids, and hurting their thought process,” he said.

" The world will applaud parades, trophies, rings, but God’s not in all that stuff. "
Dayton Moore

He’s gotten plenty of pushback, with articles in Sports Illustrated and USA Today questioning his approach, but Moore said his Christian faith helps him let those things go and “forgive daily.”

“The world will applaud parades, trophies, rings,” he told the Deseret News, “but God’s not in all that stuff.”

Even winning the World Series in 2015 isn’t as good as knowing that his team's families are doing well, their marriages are healthy and their kids are thriving.

“There’s great hope,” he told the audience. “The fact that we’re all coming together for something that we’re passionate about... that becomes the priority of our communities and our families.”

And while talking is crucial, how parents talk about pornography matters.

Taylor Chambers, a licensed marriage and family therapist and founder of Porn-Resilient Parenting, explained how parents can either help their children grow up or unintentionally shut them down, depending on how they respond to a child who sees or uses pornography.

Parents who are "hammers" respond in anger and emphasize punishments, while other parents dive right into a “sermon on the couch,” engaging in a very one-sided lecture, hoping to evoke change by convincing a child of the error of his or her ways.

Some parents break down in tears, hoping their emotions will convince their child to stop, while other parents start a “witch hunt” and start attacking whatever may have caused the problem.

This last approach is like the story of two boys who went hiking in the mountains when one of them got bitten by a rattlesnake on the path.

The unbitten boy, so angry at the snake, got a stick and began to chase it all over the mountain, finally reaching it and attacking it.

However, by the time he got back to his friend, who was near death, the boy realized he should have used his energy to get his friend off the mountain or call 911, rather than chasing away the snake.

“When (our kids) are using porn or have accidentally run into porn, they are very much like that kid on the mountain,” Chambers said. “They’re curled up and wounded and when we start putting our spotlight somewhere else, they’re left in the dark. That’s not a situation we want to put our kids in. We want to be right there, focused first and foremost on helping them out.”

" The next time somebody in your life is being thorny, stop and look beyond the thorn. "
Martin Roundy, psychotherapist

Rather than become angry, turn into a weeping mess or diving into lectures, parents help their children most by asking questions, truly listening and even acknowledging that talking about pornography may feel awkward at times.

But “temporary discomfort is worth it,” Chambers said. “Acknowledge that it feels awkward, and sometimes that’s enough to break the ice and go forward anyway.”

Parents will also be better equipped to respond to a child or even a spouse’s pornography use if they understand the trauma that may be driving the behavior in the first place, said Martin Roundy, a psychotherapist who worked with survivors of childhood trauma for 23 years and who is currently an employee with the State of Utah Division of Child & Family Services.

Roundy shared the experience of talking with one abuse survivor who came to the support group intoxicated — a violation of the rules. He brought her to his office and asked why she would do that.

Her response struck him: “But Martin, you don’t understand — the only time I’m not filled with pain is when I’m drunk.”

For her, alcohol was part of her solution to the immense stress she felt inside of her.

Such stress is often the result of an adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs: events of abuse, neglect or household dysfunction, which can have lifelong impacts on emotional and physical health.

Around 60 percent of the population has experienced at least one ACE, Roundy explained, and the higher number of ACEs a person has, the higher their risk for toxic or traumatic stress, and the greater the likelihood of acting out in negative ways to cope with that stress — whether through food, drugs, sexual behavior, alcohol, pornography use, etc.

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“The next time somebody in your life is being thorny, stop and look beyond the thorns,” he encouraged. “There’s a reason for the thorny behavior, there’s a reason this person is doing drugs … (or) involved in pornography.”

It doesn’t mean the behavior is OK, but parents and spouses need to understand that just trying to stop the behavior won’t solve the problem, he said.

Instead, the best approach is to develop a healthy, loving relationship with that person and to not take their thorny behavior personally.

“The more healthy relationships a child has, the more likely he will be able to recover from trauma,” Roundy said. “Love is the greatest healing power in the universe.”