Jake Teeny I really like the point you bring up about compartmentalized roles. It's true: in certain situations we behave one way, and in others we behave another. But what does that say about someone's character? Yes, it's understandable that you will talk to your parents in one manner and your friends another, but when you have something as drastic as Nathan's case (something familiar to a number of competitive athletes) how much of his person is made up by his "alter ego?" Is it possible for athletes--those trying to be the best--to be kind and "soft spoken" *on* the field? Or does success in sports require that you be vicious and relentless as soon as the starting horn blows?
Jake Teeny I would be interested to know what you mean by "teaches nothing." As others have posted above, there do seem to be elements of camaraderie, dedication, and hard work instilled in the athlete. While I may agree with you that sports have become too emphasized within schools, don't you feel it's a little extreme to say students don't learn anything from in it? Furthermore, if you believe in Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences (or more simply if you believe that some people are more naturally talented at one thing than another), don't you think that those who struggle with music or math or writing, but excel in activities such as sports, should be given the opportunity to develop and learn through this other medium?
Jake Teeny Although I agree with you that sports can build determination, diligence, and a hard work ethic in a student, don't you think there are other ways--ways that don't involve "chasing a ball around a field"--that we could develop these characteristics? Or do you believe that what you have learned from playing sports could have only been taught to you through sports? For while athletics may be a way to build character, we have to ask ourselves: is it the best means to this end?
Jake Teeny I think you make a great comment about how the program itself can create bonds of friendship between guys that might not normally have it, but what about the other side-effects of being a college athlete? For instance, I go to a Division I school, and although we're not particularly known for our athletic talents, the players still believe they're as good as the best. This means, whenever they walk around campus they act as if everyone should worship them. Their arrogance almost gets to the point where you can literally smell it! While I understand there are benefits to playing college sports, do you think there are drawbacks that outweigh these advantages to play?
Jake Teeny I think Tim Tebow is a great example of how sports can build character. But I would argue he is an anomaly in the field of athletics. Take examples of Ron Artest (excuse me, "Meta Worldpeace") or Plaxico Burress. Both these men are top notch athletes, but the former went into the stands to punch a fan, and the latter shot himself in the leg. While I can understand your point of how sports builds character, what about the arrogance it also builds? The lavish expenditures it also encourages (at least on a professional level)? With our society's enthrallment with athletics and its athletes, has it come to the point where their god-like status diminishes character rather than promotes it?