“We’ll Take Care of It In-House” Yeah, sure.

Anthony JenningsA handful of days ago, we read about LSU football and their recent off the field problems. This kind of stuff sickens us, because it messes up programs and destroys the good will that has been carefully built over years – even decades.

According to Joseph Zucker for Bleacher Report (June 19, 2015) in an article entitled: LSU QB Jennings, 3 Other Tigers Arrested:

“Anthony Jennings, Maquedius Bain and Dwayne Thomas, members of the LSU Tigers football team, were arrested by campus police Thursday…News of the arrests came just hours after another Tigers player was involved in an ongoing legal issue. Trey Lealaimatafao was arrested for simple battery and simple assault after an altercation outside of a bar in Baton Rouge.”

Jennings had a good shot at being the starting QB when LSU begins its season on September 5th. Jennings, the other two players and three “friends,” illegally entered an occupied dwelling, allegedly attempting to reclaim items that were allegedly stolen from Jennings. In breaking and entering, they tore up the building, which just digs them a deeper hole. Those three players, along with Lealaimatafao, have been indefinitely suspended from the team.

At this point, the police aren’t saying whether the two incidents are connected. In the overall scheme of things, it doesn’t make a difference whether they’re connected or not. Four young men have made a whole bunch of bad choices for themselves.

No coach needs these kinds of headaches; now, Coach Les Miles has four of them. Though LSU is very big on its players being positive contributors to the community, this isn’t the kind of crap they need.

March of the predictable

Almost like clockwork, D-1/D-2 or professional programs typically devote an hour or two to lecturing the team about “how to behave,” or “what we expect” at the start of each season. They rarely touch on ethics and almost never follow-up.

Speaking of “typical” the lecturers most programs bring on board are usually one of two types: the know-it-all and the bookworm. The retired know-it-all, is usually a past great, who earned a lot of respect on the field. At some point, the know-it-all made a bad decision. Each year, he or she comes back to lecture and tries to relate to the young men and women like a long-lost friend. In the end, they swap handshakes, take selfies and exchange autographs.

The other type of lecturer is someone with a few degrees in psychology or social work, and a file full of human resources credentials. Within 10 minutes of the start of their presentations (often complete with PowerPoint and hand-outs), most of the athletes are nodding off with spit drooling out of the sides of their mouth.

Neither the ex-athlete nor the psychologist/HR guru are bad people. They have their place and I respect them, but they don’t teach sports ethics. They don’t teach about choices and consequences. They often fail to teach about the most precious of all commodities; reputation. They don’t really relate to the athletes the greatest of all of the foes that they will ever face: time.

Just like yesterday

It has by now been more than 20 years since Chuck Gallagher was led away from a courtroom in handcuffs. In place of the usual suit and tie, he wore an orange jumpsuit. In place of his youthful bravado and swagger, he was ashamed and humiliated. He was not that much older than Anthony Jennings at the time; he too was a rising star in his profession. He was helped by some amazing people who taught him that although he had made a bad mistake, his life was not a mistake.

For the past 20 years Chuck took his second chance and he has used that opportunity to do good things in this world. He has taught ethics across the U.S. and in several countries. He also does private, confidential consulting to athletes, coaches and executives.

When Chuck talks in front of teams or associations, coaches or managers, he doesn’t try to be their best buddy or their best friend. Chuck talks plain and true – and he won’t bore anyone with psychological studies or dull quotations.

However, Chuck deeply cares that their lives have purpose and meaning and that they make the right choices. Whether they are about to tweet out a message or are at a party with alcohol or drugs, they have to realize what they are doing and where their decisions will lead. A D-1 athlete playing for a team such as LSU is different; the stakes are very high. The “playing life” of an athlete is short; the competition is immense. You can go from a hero to a goat with one stupid decision.

I asked Chuck about the LSU incidents:

“None of the four men from LSU made the right choice,” said Chuck. “It’s obvious that no one has given them the knowledge that bad choices always lead to bad consequences. Those guys don’t realize how narrow their window of opportunity really is; they don’t realize that when the chance is gone, it may be gone forever.”

When they crashed through the building that night, what the players heard wasn’t the sound of wood and plaster breaking apart. It was more like their careers crashing. You can repair a door or a window – a broken reputation because of bad choices is not as easy to fix, especially with in-house resources.

To contact Chuck Gallagher: 828-244-1400 or through www.SportsEthics.com

 

 

 

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SportsEthics.com

Phone: (828) 244-1400
Fax: (866) 426-4118
Chuck Gallagher
3620 Pelham Road #305
Greenville, SC 29615