Sports Ethics Minute: No Explanation Necessary

Up until a day or two ago, Jean Delance was a top recruit for the University of Oklahoma football team. Rumor has it that he may be on his way to Alabama. Was this a sudden change of heart? No, not really. He was raised to know right and wrong and acted accordingly.

University of OklahomaThis is an ethical young man, who was brought up ethically, reacting to a bunch of idiots at a fraternity. The fraternity was Sigma Alpha Epsilon and they decided to make a video for who-knows-what reason, with an inane song saying they would never let African-Americans in their fraternity. The video went viral.

Racism and in fact, all of the “isms” are embedded in many aspects of our society. I don’t for a minute believe that racism only exists within the confines of one fraternity at UO; if we look deeply enough – and in fact, not so deeply, we will find it.

It is always events like these that bring out administrators to rant and rave about what is acceptable and not acceptable. We all damn well know what is acceptable, thank you.

No man or woman has the right to elevate themselves by mocking and demeaning another; it is ancient and biblical; it is ethical; it is social justice.

Coach Bob Stoops at a team show of solidarity, was quoted as saying for Tulsa World:

“It’s sad the ignorance that there can still be with some people. It’s just appalling. I was here to be with my guys. We all work with beautiful young men and women of all races. It’s just — very little gets me choked up. But that hurt.”

Unless there are consequences for bad behavior, there’s nothing. Back in the day (please forgive me for sounding old school), the fraternity members in question would have been turned over to their draft boards. We don’t have that anymore, but we still have guilt and shame.

Choices and consequences

My mantra, the very core of what I teach is that choices, both good and bad, lead to consequences. In the case of the University of Oklahoma, a four-star recruit is walking away because he does not want to play in an atmosphere where he does not feel welcomed. I can’t say that I blame him. I applaud him.

Yes, I know there are good people at the school; I also know two of the racists have been expelled, but how much more work needs to be done? Are there other “corners” and “alleys” at the university where similar behaviors are tolerated?

I wonder how long this problem may have been festering at this fraternity. The video was tasteless, but how many times had the song been sung without recording?

How many comments were made over the years, and how many people heard them? How many people stood by silent and how many laughed at the song without participating? How many tolerated knowing that what was happening was wrong?

How many stayed at the fraternity because they were afraid of leaving to become independent?

The questions go on and on.

We live in a time and place where our expectations for people seem to be getting lower and lower. Whether it is anonymous social media bullying or Reality TV wannabe foolishness, we have developed a callousness to right and wrong.

Each one of us has a responsibility to right and wrong. Each one of us has a responsibility to a good sense of ethics. Barring that, the university must do its part to make certain good ethical behavior is observed when others are clueless. The fools who made the video were wrong; those who laughed silently on the sidelines are even more wrong.

A  shame was cast  over the entire university.









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