In an earlier blog I wrote that when I was a “kid” riding in a wagon hauling shelled corn to the town elevator, I tossed a handful of shelled corn in the air just as it happened a car was passing. My dad was driving the tractor pulling the wagon I was riding in. To my surprise and terror, the driver of the car stopped my dad and told him what I had done. Dad said nothing except ask if I did it which I admitted. When we got back home, my dad wisely and justly changed my attitude towards misbehavior of that type with his razor strap. I’ve made many other stupid mistakes but I never made that mistake again. I treasure this razor strap as one of many unforgettable legacies passed on to me by my dad. Most of my age peers agree that we were fortunate to grow up in an era of which there were codes of conduct in almost every family and in the community as a whole.
When I became a head coach in the public school system, I had a written policy or code of conduct for my athletes and would be athletes. Each kid had to take this policy home and return it signed by someone that was responsible for him. Back then it was always parents. One part of the code was each athletic team participant agreed to no smoking or drinking during the season of the sport being played. To my ignorance, I did not know that some in the community were already using other drugs. The code was simple and all participants agreed to abide by this code of conduct. Anyone, star player or board members son, was dismissed for the season if caught smoking or drinking. In my first year at Heyworth, we looked forward to a great season with some experienced players. Unfortunately, one football player who played on the basketball team the year before I was hired to replace the football coach who also subbed as the basketball coach, did not come out for the team because he preferred to smoke and drink. That was his option. Also, my tallest player was dismissed without comment when I walked into the Heyworth American Legion one night and found this young man with liquor in one hand and a cigarette in the other. We exchanged greetings and Monday the player did not return for practice. Kids have their own priorities, all adults can do is offer guidance.
I was hired to get the best out of my players and win if we were capable. Despite starting out at 2 and 5 and absent two known smokers and drinkers, we ended the season at 17 wins and 9 losses. The community supported me with no question. Today, I would probably be fired my most schools who “look the other way” if their players use drink, smoke or use drugs.
It was with further dismay when I read that a Bradley basketball player caught with an illegal substance and disciplined by the NCAA is being strongly defended by Bradley University and the basketball head coach. What a shame. The President of Bradley University should be embarrassed but evidently isn’t because winning at all costs and by any means is now standard procedures for most university presidents, their board of trustees, the athletic director and coaches.
I agree that all people should be given second chances. In the case of athletes who agree to a code of conduct, they get a second chance next season. If a senior, they move on to the next step in their life. There will be many written and unwritten codes of conduct and they will get as many second chances as those in charge will permit.
We have for many years moved toward becoming a sometimes pathetic society. Permissiveness is standard operating procedure. Discipline is disregarded and often administered against the wrong participant. In the case of Bradley, the second string player is looked at by the University as a victim and now the Coach and Bradley Administration defends him because he broke the law. Now the NCAA has to defend their policies. Didn’t Coach Jim Les have a code of conduct that the players agreed to before they were given their scholarships?
All types of excuses are made to defend wrongdoers including the wrongs committed against young children by a permissive society. No one can be rightfully dismissed temporarily from some sectors of society without contributors or taxpayers paying for the legal actions. Defense attorneys are among the happiest well to do people in the United States. Cheaters abound like the ones who were involved in backdating their stock options so that they or their colleagues could make a bigger profit at the expense of their unsuspecting stockholders. The WSJ says these well paid attorneys representing these wealthy cheaters applaud and advertise for the extra lucrative business.
Some kids at almost any young age, kill, bully and beat up others, pitch objects at moving vehicles, steal and terrorize and are sometimes described by the JS and others as “these are just kids, what do you expect”? I have blogged before that I am a proponent of the “broken window” theory. Our jails and prisons are filled with many second chance young people who, when their entire records can be exposed, show that they had too many “second” chances. We should all know by now that our kids are constantly testing as too what society considers right or wrong or what they can get away with, to formulate their own lives. Our permissive society that appears to be heading for socialism and pacifism has created a situation where the disarray of many of our classrooms, neighborhoods and streets are in control of those who had too many “second chances”.
As one lady emailed me “As always, a man that has the courage to stand up and be counted.” My thanks to her and others for giving me the courage to write, speak and act hoping to make this community a better place to live.