Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Date: Sun 8/24/2003 5:32 AM
Random Thought: Infrastructure

We are witnessing a failure of infrastructure. No, not the electrical blackout in the northeast. I'm talking about something darker: the regrettably "Bliss-fulness" of collegiate sports. It is something that must concern each and every one of us and from which we should not and cannot hide in the proverbial pristine ivory tower. I am talking about our explicit or implicit, vocal or tacit support of the high-roller, high stakes, high-risk, high-reward rackets of high school and collegiate sports that tolerate--and even often abet--cheating, criminality, lying, bribing, intimidation, cover-up, hypocrisy, and all manners of corruption. I'm talking about hordes of supposedly educated, "should-know-better" academics and non-academics who are prostituting themselves for a slice in a multi-billion dollar high school and collegiate sports industry. Above all, I am talking about a refusal to accept personal responsibility and blaming it all on the devil of the system.

Unless we choose to respond to moral and ethical misdeeds with courage, integrity and honor, our individual and collective morality actually gets weaker, and we all become larger partners in high school and collegiate athletic crime.

Almost everyone is screaming to change the system in ways that acknowledge and accept what is, that the cheating becomes cheating no longer, student-athletes are no longer students, amateurs are no longer amateurs. Many want to submit to what the system has become rather than fight to make it what it should be. It's the same ole, same ole. Everyone wants to change the system because no one wants to change themselves. It is wishful thinking to think that things will change without us changing. We make our own bed and then act as victims when we sleep in it--and continue to sleep in it. To paraphrase Pogo, we blame the system and the system is us. So, I say we first have to change ourselves, for nothing will change until we each change.

Unless we can handle that simple truth, unless we hold ourselves accountable, unless we understand and accept the role our choices play in the things that happen throughout collegiate sports, we are emotionally and morally immature. We live in the child's world of "It got lost" rather than walk in the adult world of "I lost it." No one improves anything by failing to take responsibility. To the contrary, the failure to assume responsibility is to surrender our ability to respond to circumstances, to choose our attitudes and actions and reactions, and to shape our lives. That is little more than self-imposed servitude--even slavery--to circumstances and other people.

The fundamental problem, then, is not the infrastructure of high school and collegiate sports. The seminal problem is the infrastructure within each of us. We have neglected our own infrastructure! Temptation is invited through the door that we have deliberately left open, and we have supped with it over a ten course dinner. Someone once said that we are each living on the honor system, that we are each responsible for our own moral decisions, that we each weigh the consequences of our behavior, that the results of our moral actions are with us everyday, and that the results of our ethical choices play themselves out every day both in our inner and outer worlds.

We have not taken good care of integrity, authenticity, honesty, trustworthiness, trustworthiness, fairness, responsibility, morality, ethics. That is critical, for, to paraphrase Pogo, the system is us. We allow the compromising system to compromise us only because we already have compromised ourselves, and have thereby compromised the system.

It's true we each are only one. Nevertheless, we each are one. The fact we each are only one shouldn't prevent each of us from doing what we each can do to break this vicious circle. This situation needs each of us to do something. If we each don't heed Edmund Burke and if we each keep on silently doing nothing, collegiate sports will continue to be even more "Bliss-ful."

         Make it a good day.


         Louis Schmier      
         Department of History
         Valdosta State University
         Valdosta, GA  31698                 /~\        /\ /\
         912-333-5947              /^\      /     \    /  /~\  \   /~\__/\
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                        -_~    /  "If you want to climb mountains,   \ /^\
                         _ _ /      don't practice on mole hills" -    \____

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