I was so mad yesterday (January 27, 2010) when I left the North Dakota High School Activities Association meeting, I was beside myself. There were several reasons why I was mad with the first being our school just lost a close vote to have the ban on post-season play lifted on our high school's basketball team. Now our student athletes will be denied an experience of a lifetime - competing in a district tournament with the possibility of competing in the regional and state basketball tournaments as well. This made me so angry, I decided to sit down and write this blog.
Our superintendent, our principal, our tribal council secretary, and I presented testimony. Our rational for lifting the ban on our basketball's post-season play was our students didn't do any wrong, so why should they be the ones who pay the penalty.
A lively discussion ensued, and after the comment session was over, a motion was made by the superintendent from Devils Lake to lift the ban. When the vote was called for five NDHSAA board members voted to lift the sanction, and six voted against lifting it.
As I sat and listened to the discussion by NDHSAA board members as they decided our fate, one thing became clear. They were disgusted with the unethical acts of our former athletic director, and their contempt for him came through via several veiled comments. It is my opinion that is what turned the tide against us and caused us to lose the vote by one board member.
As I said, I was mad when I left the meeting, but I wasn't mad at the NDHSAA board members who voted against us. I was mad at the one person who put our school, our students, in this predicament in the first place - our former athletic director. "There is only one person (former athletic director) responsible for this," I told no one in particular after the meeting. "It is because of him, and no one else, that our basketball team cannot play post season," I said as I continued to vent. "He cheated not once, but twice, and that is why we lost the vote," I said.
Those who are familiar with my blog, and/or my courses, will probably say, "There he goes again..." when they read this sentence: "Among the Dakotas lying and stealing from other tribal members was a capital offense. A person who was capable of lying was believed to be capable of committing other cowardly crimes against the tribe and was put to death to prevent the evil from doing more harm. If a person stole from another tribal member he was forever after called Wamanon (thief) and this distinction followed him for the rest of his life. " - Charles Eastman, Dakota 1858 - 1939
The more I research and write about ethics, the more I see the profound wisdom in Charles Eastman's words. Let's apply his wisdom to our former athletic director's actions and see if it fits:
Athletic director admits to tampering with documents to change student eligibility -- after he is caught he resigns leaving others to clean up his mess and face the consequences of his unethical acts -- his supporters attempt to blame others, which leads to arguing and fighting among tribal members -- school forfeits district, regional, and state trophies won two years ago -- fighting and arguing among tribal members and school employees continues -- school's reputation is tarnished to a point where the appeal to lift the ban on post season play is denied -- our student athletes will be denied a chance to participate in the district and possibly regional and state tournaments which could have been the experience of a life time for them.
Yup, I would say it fits.
As usual it is the young and innocent who suffer the consequences. Hmmm, I see now why Charles Eastman said, "A person who was capable of lying was believed to be capable of committing other cowardly crimes against the tribe and was put to death to prevent the evil from doing more harm."
Now I am sure there will be some individuals who still idolize our former athletic director and will stand by him... and that's fine with me as long as they do not try to put the blame on any one else. His unethical behavior has brought enough anger, sorrow, sadness, disappointment, and fighting to our community. We don't need anymore.