Sunday, November 14, 2004

The courage of our convictions.

Another perspective on courage in the wake of the Texas victory over Kansas yesterday. Kansas coach Mark Mangino made some comments in his post-game press conference regarding the offensive pass interference call that cost Kansas the game and left Texas in good shape to go to a BCS bowl game. Mangino expressed the opinion that the call was motivated by the money that was at stake for Texas. He later apologized for his statement.

After watching a replay of the controversial call, I am left with the belief that Mangino was right the first time. The "foul" was no more than receivers get away with on virtually every play in every game. The flag was thrown only after the pass reception that could well have iced the game for Kansas. The result of the call was a Kansas punt from their own end zone and excellent field position for Texas, allowing them to drive for the winning score. Draw your own conclusions.

Enormous sums of money are the real prize for a BCS bowl bid. Those teams with the best audience appeal are much more likely to draw a good ranking, no matter the quality of competition or the real quality of football that they play. This system has turned NCAA football into a professional game. I find that extremely important and I mourn the loss of pride that the NCAA has suffered and the profit motivation for the players. I hear the comment every week about how a certain player "passed up" his chance to enter the NFL draft in order to return for his senior year. Have our unicersities become no more than vocational training schools for professional sports? What ever happened to the idea of getting an education? Our universities have become profit centers rather than centers of learning.

Coach Mangino's comments were right on the money, so to speak. It's too bad that he gave in to his own profit motive and reversed himself in order to keep his job and possibly avoid a heavy fine, which raises another issue.

Since when do the NCAA conference officials dictate the opinions of their coaches and players? Do these men and women no longer enjoy their rights as Americans to freedom of speech, a right guaranteed to all citizens by the Bill of Rights? Apparently money has become such a power in this country that it outweighs even the Constitution. Let's just go ahead and change our name to the United States of the Almighty Dollar.

It takes courage to maintain the integrity of your convictions. It takes courage to realize that your words may expose a truth that may offend powerful people. It takes courage to realize and live up to the idea that there are much more important things than money in this life. I have pity for people like Coach Mangino who feel so trapped in their lives that they have to castrate themselves in the service of profit. I pray that more people will find the courage to stand up for waht they believe is right and hold onto their personal integrity. Our world would be a much better place for that.


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