Something has been really bothering me recently. I had this epiphany after observing the salacious material being cirulated through social media regarding the scandal surrounding former Arkansas Head Football Coach Bobby Petrino. It seems to me we have a growing ethics problem in the United States, and here's why:
- The Petrino scandal demonstrated that winning football games is more important than setting the right example for our students. The University of Arkansas knew full well that they were getting a coach who cared more about himself, and winning, than teaching his students how to conduct themselves responsibly. Even before this scandal broke, why would you have sent your son to play for a coach whose past behavior was reprehensible, especially how he walked out of a contractual commitment with the Atlanta Falcons.
- Technological innovation has always been a double-edged sword. In the case of Petrino, reporters were leaking tons of text messages and other material, that, quite frankly, should not have been made available to the public. How do we explain this situation to our children, and in this case, were we really using social media for the right reasons? Unfortunately, there is something called "free will," and inventions will be used for both good and evil purposes, sad to say.
- What are we teaching our children when we see college coaches pick themselves up and leave to go to other schools, even when they're under contract? We saw shameful behavior from USC Coach Lane Kiffin and former Pitt CoachTodd Graham who let their student-athletes down, one who sent them a note via Twitter! Why does the NCAAA allow college coaches to be poached from schools when they're under employment agreements? What does this tell our students about the importance of commitment?
- I have this running debate with a friend of mine about this "One and Done" situation with college basketball players. Why should we allow college Freshmen to leave school three years early? This sullies the definitation of a student-athlete - in this case, maybe the terms should be flip-flopped? Should the NBA create a developmental league for basketball players, rather than creating a situation where a student is really not attending college to get a degree, only to get drafted in one year. These students have no intention of staying to complete a degree, and it is far less likely these athletes will go back to complete 3 years of college versus one year. Maybe MLB has it right when they say you either get drafted out of high school, or you stay at college three years?
I feel like our country, to some degree, is losing its "moral compass." Contrary to what former NBA Star Charles Barkley thinks about role models - public figures ARE fole models. Thus, I truly believe that a partnership between parents and teachers must be forged to ensure that we are teaching ethics as early in a child's development as possible. I'm really afraid that we are letting this ominous legendary quote from Vince Lombardi rule the day:
"Winning isn't everything. It's the ONLY thing."
Lets reinvent education by ensuring we teach ethics to our students as part of their academic requirements. This may be the most important life skill they receive. I, for one, try and live by the ideals of the following quote from famous author C.S. Lewis:
"Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching"