Sunday, August 31, 2008

Reassessing My Character

Yesterday I was at a birthday party for 6 hours (looooooooong story) with several academics. At times I honestly felt that I might have been the least intelligent person in the room (and this includes three five-year olds and a 2 1/2 year old). During the course of the party, we were on-and-off watching Saturday college football. As you might imagine there was some serious animosity against revenue-generating college sports in the room. And, as much as I love college athletics, I am one of the fiercest critics.

And this is the context in which I took stock of my own character and have been chastising myself for not speaking up. There was a point in the conversation when one of the "old school" academics announced that with all the "pre" majors at the University the athletic department should have a one titled "pre-felon." At this pronouncement I felt my hackles go up, for whatever failings college athletics has I am not willing to place the blame at the feet of the student-athletes nor am I willing to make them the butt of jokes. On the contrary, because of the backgrounds of many college athletes, and more specifically athletes in revenue-generating sports, I believe this is another form of classism that is considered socially acceptable.

During this prolonged berating of athletes I silently squirmed uncomfortably in my seat, feeling like a freshman among sage faculty members and not wanting to speak up for fear my comments would be ridiculed as sophomoric and naive. But would I have sat silently by if the comments were about race or gender? I hope not. Then again, jokes about race and gender aren't socially acceptable, especially among recent acquaintances. But because college athletes are an easy target and it is somehow okay to ridicule and denigrate them.

Perhaps I don't have the sensibility to be a faculty member, or perhaps I need to trust my sense of right and wrong enough to speak up and not worry what people will think. In either case, it's an ethical delimma that I am not too proud of.

1 comment:

Wild Cayuse Creek said...

Trust in your voice. You are incredibly intelligent and well-read. You are living in the real world and have come from the real world. Always speak your truth. Always. Maybe others won't agree with you. But you'll know you displayed the courage of your convictions.