Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Lessons Not Learned

Instead of learning to stay above the fray, the group’s leaders taught them another lesson: How to jump into the muck.

Instead of learning one of life’s hardest lessons – ignoring your detractors – they learned how to present themselves in a display that could be considered passive-aggressive.

Instead of learning another lesson – don’t excite those who are all too ready to do your bidding – they watched two men they’ve never met, and whose characters are entirely questionable, speak for them.

Instead of learning how to handle matters discreetly, this impressionable group learned how to go public.

Instead of turning an opportunity – as gross as it was – into a learning experience that would benefit them well into their future, the Rutgers University woman’s basketball team was failed by its leaders. They taught the ladies how to get even.

The team’s coaches and the school’s administration were presented with an opportunity to prepare their young charges for the other insults and knocks they may receive later in life.

This is not to make light of what Don Imus said about the team. I don’t know if he’s is a racist, but he certainly sounded like one when offered up that gross description about them.

And I can’t help but think that the basketball team, filled with gifted student-athletes, was failed by its leaders, people who will leave a lasting impression on them.

Yes, they were insulted. Imus’ remark was gross, indecent, sophomoric, racist, sexist and absolutely inexcusable. But anyone who’s ever listened to Don Imus knows that’s his schtick. He insults people. So why stoop to his level, even if you don’t mean to?

The next time one of these ladies is insulted, the coach and Rutgers University likely won’t be standing by their side waiting for an apology on their behalf. It’s also likely that the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton will have forgotten them.

So the next time they’re insulted, they’ll learn the lesson they should have learned during their collegiate years -- fugeddaboutit. Toughen up, in other words.

It’s one of the hardest lessons to learn. Insults cut to our core. The ladies of the Rutgers basketball team were probably thinking they were doing all the right things in this life, when suddenly, without warning, some jerk – who happened to have a nationally syndicated radio show – deeply offended them with a few choice words.

It’s no surprise that they, their families, their coach and the University felt awful about the insult fired off at these accomplished young ladies. They should have.

But the coach and the University’s administration could have done their young charges a far better service had they quietly taken them aside, without any reporters, and delivered this message: “That’s life – especially in the fishbowl of collegiate athletics.

“There will always be someone willing to insult you. If it happens, ignore it and move on. Don’t dwell it. If you do, your assailant wins.

“Also keep this in mind: If this happens to you, after you leave college, we won’t be there to defend you. Your loved ones won’t be able to help you either. And as far as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are concerned, they’ll be off frying bigger fish.

“If you let the insult run off of you like water, there’s a better chance you’ll go through this life at peace with yourself and others. That’s what matters. That’s justice!”

And that would have been the end of it so far as the basketball team was concerned. The coach and the University’s administration would have placed themselves and their team above the fray, showing them how to deal with terrible incidents from unkind people.


Debbie Talaska said...

So true. I was told by a very wise grandmother, "Let it run off your back like water on a duck and paddle like crazy under the water!"
She ment that we need to spend our energies improving ourselves rather than proving ourselves.

Leigh Hanlon said...

I relished the delicious irony of Don Imus appearing on Al Sharpton's radio show to apologize. Has Sharpton ever apologized for his role in the Tawana Brawley incident?