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Would You Have Reported Sandusky?

Thomas Paine said, “Character is much easier kept than recovered.”

That makes me think of Penn State.  Lost character that may not ever be recovered.

I find myself asking, “Why didn’t someone do something?”  And then I wonder, “Would I have done something?”

Easier said than done.

A number of years ago, my son Ryan played on a basketball team with a very bad coach.  Ryan was a great basketball player but he was challenged by a lack of confidence.  A negative comment from the coach or a missed shot would fill his head with questions about his abilities – and this thinking would ultimately affect his performance on the court.

In one particular game, Ryan made a layup, a foul shot, and stole the ball in short period of time early in the first half.  But the coach took him out after only 5 minutes of playing time.  And he never put him back in.  Other players, however, were making mistakes and not playing well at all.  They stayed in.  After the game, the coach screamed at the players he had taken out saying that they were not playing well enough to go back in.

My son got back to the car and was on the verge of tears.  He said, “I thought I played well.”  I reassured him that he did and that the coach was out of line.  I even considered going back inside to give the coach a piece of my mind (which knowing my mind, isn’t much, but you get the point).  But I didn’t

Over the next few days, I struggled with wether I should talk to the coach about his inappropriate behavior.  He had a reputation for not only losing his temper but ignoring anyone’s feedback.  So, I doubted if talking to him would do any good.  I was also afraid that if I confronted him, I would virtually eliminate my son’s future playing time.  On top of all that, my son did not want me to talk to the coach.  So, I didn’t.

Now, let’s be clear.  Child abuse is different than having a poor basketball coach.  I get that.  But I also realize how we can rationalize our decision, in any given situation, based on the potential fallout of the decision.  By anticipating the fallout, we do the same thing my son did. We get inside our heads which affects our performance.  But if we’re confident in our values, we know what’s right and we have no need to second guess our decisions.

Doing the right thing is what it means to Do it Well.  If we want to do the right thing, we not only need to develop solid values, but we need to immerse ourselves in them every day.

If character is easier to keep than to recover, we should all be fighting to keep it.



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