goodbye, Mr. Tressel
I am deeply ambivalent about Jim Tressel’s resignation from the Head Coach position of the football program at the Ohio State University. There did seem to be a pattern of violations, including players trading memorabilia for tattoos, cars (and probably some for marijuana). Tressel seemed to be one of the good guys, earnestly trying to teach his student-athletes life lessons as well as win football games. However, when he could–and should–have been the one person that ever told the players that they were *not* entitled to the lush privileges that so many others showered upon them, he allowed them to accept cars, and undoubtedly many other favors. And then he lied about it, to the NCAA. Some may say that virtually all big-time college programs bend the rules; even if that were true, it would not make it right. Part of why there is such glee in some sports fans’ lives today–and such sorrow in many Buckeye fans–is that Tressel really did seem to be a rule-follower.
I think there are legitimate questions to be asked: whether college athletes should be paid, whether the memorabilia should be the property of the athletes, and most importantly, whether we can ethically support a sport that destroys men’s bodies, and shortens their lives (by as much as 25 years!). They are truly modern-day gladiators.
I absolutely believe that we humans can learn and teach life lessons through sport. I wish that some of those lessons were *not* that “winning is everything,” or “money talks,” or that trading your health for fame and fortune is acceptable.
Jim Tressel went 106-22 at OSU, and won a national championship in 2002. I hope his most enduring legacy will be the good things that he taught his players and fellow coaches–during and in spite of those 128 games.
(original post, with links, at So May We Be)