Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have heard the bad news coming out of Ohio State University. Jim Tressel, the much loved, successful coach has tendered his resignation. Everyone that I come across has an opinion on this story. Being an Ohio State Alumni, I have a lot of mixed emotions. I liked Jim Tressel and felt he was truly a good, stand-up kind of guy. I saw him as someone with character and respect for his players, the game and the rules. I feel disappointed. This situation reminds me of an experience I had as a student at Ohio State.
When I attended Ohio State, I had a Communication class with the star quarterback at the school. He was good-looking, talented and charming and had everything he needed to be successful in life. Every guy wanted to be him and every girl wanted to be with him. I vividly remember details about that classroom; especially where I would sit in relation to “big football star.“ But something happened one day that changed my feelings about how I view the world.
As I sat there concentrating on my multiple-choice test, I took a moment to look around the room. I was trying to remember an answer that I had somewhere way back in my head and it often helped if I would look away from the paper and just relax. In plain view, four rows up, was “big football star” blatantly cheating off his neighbor. My eye went directly to the professor, hoping he could see the injustice. He looked directly at “big football star”, took a few seconds to take in the scene, and looked away. He just looked away and did nothing.
I learned something that day that I had suspected all along. There were different rules for different people. Life was not always fair and certain people had power that transcended rules. I felt disappointed and crushed. I was disappointed in “big football star” but absolutely crushed by the Professor’s response. I was disgusted by how the “system” worked at the school.
The whole Jim Tressel debacle just brings up all these same feelings. I am very sure that these privileges for the top players go on at every single competitive university across the country. Ohio State is not special. This is the way athletics works. I would just like to say that we, as parents, have a responsibility to not perpetuate this experience for our youth. Children and adolescents learn from modeling clear rules and boundaries. If you model on a daily basis that all that matters is winning- not integrity, character or respect, that is exactly what you will get in your kid-entitlement. And I’m not just talking about athletics- I am talking about every part of your kid’s life.
As for the “star quarterback”, things didn’t turn out so well for him in the end. Actually, things turned out really, really bad. In fact, many years later he named the many privileges he was given in his life as the very thing that led to his downfall. So maybe we should give some thought to this one, girlfriend.