Summer is almost over, and the disappointment about returning to class . . .Now this week they follow that up with a column about the Derek Jeter cheating incident, where he fooled the umpire into thinking he’d been hit by the ball so that he could get on base instead of making an out. Troy Renck, the Denver Post baseball columnist, had this to say:
All those people who talk about the honor in baseball, I wonder when exactly they watched the game. Don't they realize that third-base coaches used to do cartwheels to try to get pitchers to walk or balk?Really?
. . . I agree it doesn't set a great example for kids. But that's where parents should be able to articulate the difference between professional athletes and youth sports. For the pros, their livelihood depends on the results of the games, not whether they get banned from the orange slices and Capri Suns.
If Jeter is guilty of anything, it's bad acting, not cheating.
So, what you’re saying is, the more important something is the more okay it is to cheat? Following your logic, then it would be okay for schools and students to cheat on CSAP because most certainly “our livelihood” depends on the results. What you’re saying is, “Hey, he cheated too, so it’s okay for me to cheat!” My fifth grader already knows that’s not a legitimate excuse.
I can’t help but point to the irony of this story being on the facing pace in the print edition of the sports section, with the headline “Question of Honor:”
Undisclosed Creek players conspired to fix results in a preseason intrasquad qualifying "ladder" tournament that determines varsity seedings. Several players were serving suspensions this past week when Creek dropped one match at Fairview and another at home against rival Regis Jesuit.So, on the one hand, we have educators at Cherry Creek High School making an unequivocal statement that cheating is not okay. That it’s not only wrong, but that we’ll punish both you and ourselves as an institution to make sure you understand how wrong it is. Then, on the other hand, we have Troy Renck and the Denver Post supporting – no, in fact, promoting – the win at all costs culture that has given us not only Derek Jeter, but also Enron, Lehman Brothers, credit default swaps, and our current economic crisis.
. . . "What this was for (the players involved) was a life lesson," Cherry Creek spokeswoman Tustin Amole said. "It showed poor sportsmanship and very bad judgment. The school and the athletic director and the principal took this very, very seriously."
A few years ago Charles Barkley stated that he didn’t want to be a role model for young people. Put me firmly in the camp that believes that all of us: teachers, athletes, coaches, and adults in all manner of occupations should be role models for our young people. And, yes, that includes sports columnists and newspaper editors that are asleep at the switch.
If I asked students at my high school the following question,
In non life-threatening circumstances, and in cases where it’s not a conflict between good and evil (think World War II), is it okay to cheat?I’m pretty sure that all 2,150 of them would get the correct answer. Now, to be sure, it’s likely that some of them have cheated in a variety of endeavors, but yet they still know it’s wrong. And most of them, like the tennis players at Cherry Creek, know they made a mistake and regret it.
Yet apparently Derek Jeter, Troy Renck and the editors at the Denver Post would disagree with our high school students, and would tell them that, “Yes, it is okay to cheat if the stakes are high enough.” So now those tennis players at Cherry Creek, who got a very clear message from the educators in their lives that cheating is not okay, have to be asking themselves, “Wait. What you’re saying is that what I did wasn’t wrong, I just should’ve been making money off of it?”
In combination with the disappointing headline from two weeks ago, that makes two strikes on you Denver Post. You know what they say in baseball, “Three strikes and you’re out.” Of course, perhaps that doesn’t apply anymore to people like Derek Jeter . . . or Troy Renck.
No, Mr. Renck, I’m not going to “give you a break.” I expect more from you Mr. Renck, and from the Denver Post. As I said a couple of weeks ago, perhaps you should pay closer attention to what you are actually communicating to our young people. That instead of undermining what we are trying to teach our students about respect and responsibility, about right and wrong, about honor and doing the right thing even when no one is looking (and that includes umpires), perhaps you should try to support us.
If you have an opinion on this, feel free to leave a comment on this post. But, perhaps more importantly, feel free to contact the Denver Post with your thoughts.
Troy Renck: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sports Page: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Dan Haley, editorial page editor: email@example.com or @danhaleyDP on Twitter
Letters to the Editor: firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-954-1331
Daniel Petty, Denver Post Social Media Editor: @danielpetty on Twitter