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College Football and the Virtues That Make Civilization Possible

We LOVE college football. I know it’s not very gay, but it is our favorite part of Fall Saturdays. Saturday evening, after having dinner with dear friends, we were home watching a game we really didn’t care about, and we watched as a player committed a personal foul and then was ejected from the game. He walked off the field arrogantly, with no shame or chagrin. We talked about what should be done in that case. My opinion is, if the coach is courageous, the player should be suspended and told that he has to pay for the rest of his education. The coach would have to do that to only one player before there was a radical change of behavior.

The trouble, of course, is the alums who are major donors care more for wins than they do for student athletes behaving with integrity and as proper sports. Coaches are at greater risk for their response than players for their behavior.

This seems to be a parable about civility in today’s society. Although we may criticize, or even ridicule, those whose behavior is considered gauche or socially inacceptable, if it makes the point or the profit, it gets overlooked and subtly rewarded. Soon the practice becomes accepted and applauded, and the disdain regarded as old fashioned and antiquated.

Who will be the souls to stand for integrity, fidelity, mutuality, respect, responsibility, honesty, civility, and the virtues that make civilization possible? Who will be the women and men who honestly take responsibility for their own mistakes, faults, and failings so they can critique culture without hypocrisy? Who will be able to say, “I see these faults in my own mirror, but if we do not resist them in our culture we will not survive as a civilization”?

Well, it will not be the NCAA who regulates college football players because, frankly, they exploit amateur athletes to make too much money. I guess it needs to be Christians who have the courage to tell the truth about themselves so they are able to confront the truth in the larger culture. Yes, there are times when we make mistakes and should be ejected from the game, but we will hang our heads so we can come back next week as people who have learned from our mistakes, ready to do better.


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Rev. Michael Piazza

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