A man’s character is his fate. Heraclitus
So too is the character of a program its fate. Few programs can muster the ability to say with a straight face that theirs is one of utmost perfection in character, but most strive for character. Much has been made over the last several seasons, even right here at Duck Sports Authority, regarding character. We have done several articles relating to the character of the program and its athletes. Embrace the moments of good because it can change direction as quickly as Charles Nelson. Here today – shattered tomorrow.
This week even more damning news surfaced via an ESPN report about just how deep the issues within the Baylor athletic department run. Art Briles is not a man of weak moral fortitude. Nor is Ken Starr, the university president, one to snub his nose at moral turpitude – especially that which involves sexual misconduct. Yet, they find themselves ensnared in a box closing in on them. There are far too many incidents, far too many coincidences to think this is not a pervasive problem.
Be careful, though, before casting aspersions toward the failures of others; all programs have their dark secrets. After all, it was Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant, the legendary Alabama coach who once said “Show class, have pride, and display character. If you do, winning takes care of itself.” A man whose shadow of greatness curren6t Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban coaches under. Saban has worked very hard to emulate the immense success of Bryant as cleanly as possible – and yet they also find themselves the recent target of derision over misdeeds by current and recent players. It happens everywhere. Immunity is not plausible, it would seem, in the ultra-competitive college football environment.
And yet it is still character which should be first and foremost in a coach’s responsibility. We clamor for wins, clamor for highly ranked recruits, revel in success on the field and feel torment at their failures. We have perverted the entire mission of college athletics to feign some sort of territorial pride over the accomplishments of others. Collegiate athletics began in earnest before football was played on college campuses with the Rowing Association of American Colleges. The association was created mainly to ensure that only those who were undergraduates attending the university could represent the team in rowing competitions – yes, there was cheating from the very beginning and organizations were structured to attempt the elimination of such attempts.
Cheer the effort, cheer the heart, cheer the results, but most importantly, cheer the character. It is easy to win with character, much more difficult to show character in defeat. In some ways, this is where the legendary NFL coach Vince Lombardi – winning is not the only thing and a good loser is not a loser. Character matters much more than wins and losses. Don’t revel in Baylor’s fall from grace, feel saddened that young men have failed not on the football field, but the field which matters most – life.