Importance of Integrity

(From L) Gold medalist Team US Kyla Ross

We see it everywhere.

In media, in politics, in sports, even in our day-to-day lives…people sacrifice their morals and their values for success. Some media outlets glorify these individuals who do whatever it takes to get ahead, placing them on figurative pedestals, giving the rest of the population a distorted impression of their deeds.

The way sports controversies are covered in today’s news raises a few important questions:
1) Does it matter what path you take to success?
2) Does status and ranking outweigh integrity and performance?
3) Is winning all that really matters?

Not everyone may see the importance in holding professional athletes and figures in sports accountable for their actions, but generations look up to these individuals. Whether it’s a football coach and quarterback, like Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, or an Ultimate Fighting Champion, like Jon Jones, somebody, somewhere, is watching the media portray their unsavory actions as ok…and is beginning to wonder if maybe, just maybe…it could be ok…

Athletes as Role Models

Photo courtesy Any Given Sunday, from Colonial All-Pro Camp at W&M, Tim Tebow works with a group of kids.

Photo courtesy Any Given Sunday, from Colonial All-Pro Camp at W&M, Tim Tebow works with a group of kids.

Athletes are common public figures. Think about it, how many times do you hear that a young boy or girl idolizes a basketball or football player? These individuals are held in high esteem by children and adults within our society, are paid high salaries, play on often highly publicized, televised platforms – our society treats athletes like celebrities.

Role model”, as defined by, is “a person whose behavior, example, or success is or can be emulated by others.

If media today portrays athletes as people who are above the law, people who succeed by abandoning their morals and values, what are we teaching those who look up to them?

For example, look at the incidents with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots. In 2007, the team was involved in a cheating scandal referred to as “Spygate”, where they illegally recorded other teams hand signals. The team was involved in yet another cheating scandal this year, right before the Superbowl, involving balls that were partially deflated. However, they were still allowed to play.
Similarly, Ultimate Fighting Champion Jon Jones has been on a hot streak since coming onto the fighting scene and has only officially lost one fight. Recently, Jones popped positive for cocaine and entered a rehabilitative program, but was never stripped of his title.

What kind of message are we sending, again? It would stand to reason, media and sports hold athletes as above the law and without consequence.

This week in sports news, high school athlete Jean Delance proved that not all athletes are ready to toss their morals aside for a chance at fame and fortune.
Delance had committed to Oklahoma State University and was planning to play as an Offensive Tackle after graduation until a video of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity members singing a chant about lynching African-American’s surfaced online. Delance is walking away from playing ball for OSU, saying his grandmother, his mother, his ancestors, and he, himself, could not be proud of him if he didn’t.

Ultimately, Delance proved that some athletes are able to stick to their moral beliefs and is looking into other universities.

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