Wednesday, June 13, 2007

lessons about honesty from the world of sports

Sports, done the right way, offers us the opportunity to learn many valuable lessons about character. Perseverance, team work, accountability, integrity, and the value of hard work are all lessons that sports can teach us. Further, there are many, many people in the world of sports who, by example, serve as admirable role models who teach those same values. John "Hondo" Havlicek, Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson, Tony Perez, Hank Aaron, Albert Pujols, Tim Duncan, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Alonzo Mourning, and Tony Dungy are just a few of the many sports figures who have served as admirable role models. From Central Indiana, the Indianapolis Colts and the Butler Bulldogs basketball team have, through their conduct and their approach to competition, served as excellent team role models. All of the above represent everything that is good and right about sports.

Today's post is not about that. Today we'll talk about what's wrong with sports.

For the second year in a row, the Ball State basketball coaching staff, led by head coach Ronnie Thompson, has violated NCAA rules, and the school has been forced to self-report those violations.

Last December, I took my son to Hinkle Fieldhouse, home of the Butler Bulldogs, to see the Butler/BSU basketball game. As a BSU alum, I was anxious to see what kind of team the Cardinals had this year. Of course, as a fan of great basketball I was also anxious to see Butler play. Truly, I was embarrassed at the performance of my alma mater. It was obvious within the first two minutes of the game that the Ball State team was undisciplined, unfocused, and poorly coached. Ronnie Thompson, son of former Georgetown coach John Thompson, was a slick looking guy who clearly had no idea what he was doing and had done nothing to prepare his team for this game against a very good Butler team. I talked to an old college buddy a couple of days later and made the prediction that Ball State would be on probation withing 3 years if they stayed with Thompson as their head coach.

He's going to prove me right.

The rules violated this summer by Thompson's staff are the same rules they violated last summer. That tells me that they have no intentions of following the rules, and that they are probably violating bigger rules as well.

Thompson's cool with that, though. He just got a $7000 pay raise two months ago, making his salary $182,000 for 2007-08. He's in the second year of a five-year contract.

Looks like we'll have more "excitement" associated with Cardinal basketball, at least until the NCAA posse rides into town!

Jack Trudeau played quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts from 1986-1995. Two weeks ago, Trudeau and his wife hosted a high school graduation booze part at their home. When police arrived on the scene, Trudeau was standing in the driveway with a clipboard, checking off names of the 18-19 year olds as they arrived. He also had a box where he was keeping the car keys of the kids so that they couldn't leave the party once they had arrived. When police arrived, they asked Trudeau if they could investigate and Trudeau refused. He also refused to turn over the clipboard and told the police to come back with a warrant. After the police left. Trudeau, along with the other parents in attendance, hid all of the kids they could find in the homes of neighbors so that they wouldn't be arrested. Of course, many of the kids had already fled, choosing to hide in the woods behind Trudeau's house.

When the police returned, they searched the woods and found some of the kids. Breathalyzer tests were administered and arrests were made.

Today, Trudeau says that he didn't provide the alcohol, so he committed no crime. He says that he was being a "responsible parent" by allowing his daughter and her friends to get liquored up at home and taking their car keys. He also offered the standard statement that all guilty perps say--"Not all of the facts have come out. I'm looking forward to my day in court." Riiiiight! Tell me Jack, what else do we need to know? You let kids drink alcohol at your house, in violation of Indiana law. You refused to cooperate with police, and you obstructed their investigation. That's a felony. Please tell me. What else do I need to know?

Predictions: Trudeau will skate on these charges because he's a local celebrity. He's got rich and powerful friends, and the kids who were at this party have rich and powerful mommies and daddies. All of them have access to high priced legal talent. There will be no meaningful punishment for anyone associated with this party, and a message will be sent that it's OK to violate the law.

Ronnie Thompson will eventually leave Ball State for an even higher paying job. He will leave behind a program in shambles, but he won't lose too much sleep over that. His bank account will continue to grow.

The Lesson/Big Idea: As parents, we must persevere in talking to our kids about truth, honesty. character, integrity and wisdom. We must serve as role models for our kids, and be living examples of those values. We must point them toward the many good examples of those values, both inside and outside the world of sports.

As citizens, we must persevere in seeking representatives to support who will model those principles and values. We must expect our elected leaders to live out those values, and we must hold them accountable if they don't.

Our children and our grandchildren deserve no less.


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