With much fanfare and publicity, a Minnesota high school hockey coach recently posted his 500th career win. What the articles about achieving the milestone failed to mention was that he is alleged to have racked up all those wins with the help of players he had recruited, a practice which is prohibited at the high school level in Minnesota. It would seem, however, that only winning matters to most people.
The list of colleges that have engaged in serious violations of NCAA rules is a long one, Penn State being only the most recent. Likewise long is the list of college and youth swimming coaches who have either been alleged to, or have been convicted, of sexually abusing athletes on their teams. Like some swim coaches, there are still wrestling coaches who force wrestlers into engaging in weight loss practices to compete at weights which put their health at risk, all in the name of winning. The list goes on and on.
Alcohol abuse and the use of performance enhancing drugs by high school and college athletes is rampant, with most coaches looking the other way (a notable exception occurred this past fall at the University of North Dakota, which suspended several members of its hockey team for drinking violations). Athletes on Boston University men's hockey team, plagued by recent sexual assault allegations, were found by a report to live in a climate of "sexual entitlement." A cheating scandal at Harvard University resulted in one-year suspensions for as many as 100 students, with as many as half varsity athletes, including players from the men's baseball, football and basketball team, most notably, senior co-captains Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry, who lead the team to their first-ever Ivy League title and first NCAA tournament appearance since 1946.
What the heck is going on with our young people, and the adults in charge?
Money makes the world go around
I believe our entertainment-oriented society, which focuses on winning at all costs, is the root of the problem, which is, in turn, driven by money. Money is responsible for the changing alignment of Division 1 college hockey programs. I suspect the same is true in other sports. Money, money, money.
What about the athletes? Who is looking out for their educations, their health and their welfare as they are earning tens of millions for their schools or professional teams?
Lance Armstrong and Roger Clemens lied for years about their use of performance-enhancing drugs, which helped them cheat their way to Tour de France titles and Cy Young awards, while earn millions of dollars.
Parents of elite high school hockey players in Minnesota see nothing wrong in lying about where they live so their kids can play on the "best" teams for the "best" coaches." Coaches lie when they recruit players.
What we need is leadership and integrity to return to sports. Today, it is sadly lacking.