Doing what’s right

Here’s a quiz on some issues young people might face in their lives. See what advice you would give.

1. Your daughter is having a tough time with a class in school. Her grade is borderline failing. If she doesn’t pass the next test she will fail the class. She is sure she can pass if she writes some key hints on crib sheets. The teacher doesn’t watch the class very closely while they take tests. Should you tell her to make up the crib sheets?

2.. Your daughter is working in her first job out of school. It doesn’t pay very well and she is having trouble making ends meet. The petty cash drawer is locked in a drawer but she knows where the key is. She believes she can help herself a little to some without getting caught. Should you tell her it’s ok to do it?

3. Your son is the CEO of a company. The CFO shows him a way to artificially inflate the stock price by moving money around and reporting income that isn’t really there. If he does it he and others in on the scheme can get rich. They believe they can do this without being caught. Should they?

Odds are you would answer “no” to each of these questions. (I’ll bet Mrs. Skilling wishes someone would’ve asked her.) Yet all over the fastpitch softball world, coaches are knowingly teaching their players just the opposite lesson.

This came up tonight when someone I know, like, and respect was proudly telling me how his daughter’s new team has a very “aggressive” philosophy. He said they teach their fielders to stand in the basepath when a ball is hit, forcing base runners to go around them. Although it is aginst the rules, the rationale is umpires won’t call it. Same with what they’re teaching hitters. With runners on base they tell hitters to switch to the left side, fake a bunt, and then pull the bat back to interfere with the catcher trying to make the play. Apparently wherever they play the umpires don’t call that either. (That is some poor umpiring in my opinion.) Another technique is to fake a bunt and then step across the plate in the way of a throw. The rules state that a batter is not allowed to interfere with a catcher making a play, but they rationalize that it’s ok as long as they don’t get caught.

Sports are supposed to teach lessons such as playing by the rules, showing good sportsmanship, and winning through putting forth your best effort — not through cheating. I can only hope that someday, one of these players who is learning that the rules don’t matter if you can get away with it wind up in charge of these coach’s retirement fund. Maybe then they’ll regret the lesson they taught on the softball field.

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