December 10, 2003
in amateur sports goes beyond winning
misguided Bowl Championship Series (BCS) computer has
screwed things all up. Dollars, scholarships and pro-football
draft positions - as well as coaches' jobs at stake here.
Computers don't have judgment. How can something this
important be compromised by bureaucrats and computer match-ups?
The BCS process does appear to be flawed. Beyond that, though, you might want to consider a handful
of questions fundamental to your inquiry:
is the primary purpose of education, specifically higher
education? Within that, what is the role of the sports
program in the first place? Was it to teach the importance
of physical health, honest competition, teamwork, sportsmanship
and leadership? How, then, does the focus and frenzy
devoted to the crowning of a national champion strengthen
the capacity our nation's younger people to function
effectively in an increasingly complex and competitive
much time should young and gifted student athletes be
expected to devote to sports travel, practice and performance
activities? And how does that compare with the time
that should be devoted to studying for the academic
degree they have committed to earn (which most of them
will need to earn a living for the rest of their lives)?
appropriate is it for these young people to be required
to keep this intense pressure on themselves beyond the
regular sports season and receive performance pressure
from parents, friends and coaches from middle school
years onward? Remember, only a tiny fraction of those
participating will have sufficient ability and desire
to succeed as a professional in their sport, and even
those will average less than five years as professionals.
this national frenzy with "crowning the champion"
simply extend pressure on them that could contribute
negatively to their lifelong effectiveness, especially
if means sacrificing lifelong learning for the sake
of short-term glory?
many institutions of higher learning, sports programs
are big business. How much time and pressure should
student athletes need to accept in order to satisfy
the desires of those who are too often using them for
it not be appropriate to think of this time of year
a little less about crowning and more about celebrating?
in amateur sport is not as much about winning as about
education, nurture and relationships. There needs to be
a more thoughtful assessment of what we are leaving as
our legacy of values for and with these athletes.
Amateur sports need to be guided by adults who understand
what it means to maintain a sense of proportion. If not
properly guided, then sports will continue to provide
a forum for angry and frustrated parents (and fans) who
scream at coaches, fight in front of their children and
set unrealistic expectations. We are better than that.