Sports are a great and wonderful pastime! Right now we are in the middle of one of those magical times when, at least for this happy writer, the stars align and the best of all possible worlds align - The Olympics and Baseball!
As some of you know may know, I am a huge fan of baseball, feeling, as I do, that it so perfectly reflects the American way of life. I know it is not as fast as some other sports, but I have always felt that those for whom this is an issue don’t really understand the drama and theatricality of the sport. Not to mention the need to occasionally refresh your libation without fearing you will miss too much! Personally, I just love the “boys of summer”, and the vast history of this country that this wonderful sport represents.
And as to the Olympics, who can not be fascinated by the prospect of the very best the world has, in all sports, coming together, each representing the pride, hope and dreams of their respective nations, to compete on a level field for the honor of being called “the very best!” Just amazing.
While not only boosting the pride of individual nations, sports can also foster teamwork, self esteem, pride (in a good way) and a whole host of other valuable character traits in us as individuals, whether we compete or simply act as audience and supporters.
But, sadly, sports can also bring out the worst in some of us. Today we witness this very thing, ironically, in both of my favorite fields.
Yesterday the Badminton World Federation announced that players from several countries were to be disqualified from play in the Olympics in London, for trying to obtain an unfair advantage in rankings by purposefully losing matches during qualifying rounds. Clearly, this is a violation of ethics as well as rules. For some, apparently, the desire to win, at any cost, is stronger than the honor and integrity which the Olympics is meant to represent.
But today we also look back to a time many years ago, when Major League baseball faced a similar, and in many ways greater, challenge to it’s own integrity. In 1926, on this day, August 3, eight players from the Chicago White Sox 1919 World Series team were banned from ever playing professional baseball again because of their participation in an intentional attempt to lose a game in that series. Here, the motive was money rather than glory, as gambling interests had bet heavily against the Sox that year.
And in baseball one does not even need to go back to 1926 to find instances of ethical and legal violations. We are still working through the legal fallout from the steroid use violations in the sport in recent decades. Nor have the Olympics been isolated and immune from such abuse.
Clearly, the importance of sports has produced a climate in which many are tempted to break the rules in order to win or profit.
And this points to a clear flaw in our culture. The “win at all costs” mentality has affected our ideals and our ethics. Politicians routinely lie in order to win. Corporations. Wall Street. The list goes on and on.
Cheating is simply wrong, not only because of the inherent lack of fairness, but also because the results, even when undiscovered, fester within the being of the cheater and darken that life forever.
So where do we start if we are to clean this up and return our nation and the individuals within it to a state of ethical grace?
Why, with our children of course. If we wish them to grow strong ethically we must lead through example, by living in an ethical and moral way, and by refusing to condone those who would not.
This is not to preach a religious point of view, per se, but rather a common sense set of morals and ethics which may find it’s way back, simply to the basic truth that we all learn in Kindergarten. Treat others as we would wish to be treated ourselves. It is that simple. And this simple precept holds true regardless of one's faith or lack thereof. It is simply "right" It works.
To that end, we here at Mobile Ed have, in recent years, added three programs to our roster which, uncharacteristically for us, do not deal with Math, Science or Social Studies. Rather, these new shows deal with what we refer to as Character issues.
Inspector Iwannano is based on the acclaimed Character Counts initiative and its emphasis on the Six Traits of good character - Respect, Responsibility,Trustworthiness, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship.
To this we have added two programs designed to foster an awareness of the harm caused by bullying in our society, and the ways individuals can counter this ugly specter. These are Stronger Than a Bully, and The No Bully Zone.
Obviously, the need for such programs is well recognized, as our tours for all three programs have filled rapidly. If you are also of a mind that these issues are key to the future of our kids and our country, then we would urge you to contact us soon as the open supply of dates for all three programs is dwindling quickly.
Meantime, let us not allow the darker side of the olympics to spoil the golden moments that still lie ahead. Nor should we forget that the most glorious of all possible sporting events is just around the corner - Post Season Baseball! Bring me a hot dog, would you? :-)
Geoff Beauchamp is the Regional Manager of Mobile Ed Productions where "Education Through Entertainment" has been the guiding principal since 1979. Mobile Ed Productions produces and markets quality educational school assembly programs in the fields of science, history, writing, astronomy, natural science, mathematics, character issues and a variety of other curriculum based areas. In addition, Mr. Beauchamp is a professional actor with 30 years of experience in film, television and on stage. He created and still performs occasionally in Mobile Ed's THE LIVING LINCOLN.