Who’s The Adult Here?

May 13th, 2010

You may have seen the You Tube video – shot with a cell phone – of a charter school teacher here in Houston allegedly beating up a student last month. She’s 40. The boy is 13. The video appears to show her kicking his back, slapping his face and slamming his head against the wall. News stories suggest other teachers were watching the incident.

Perhaps you heard about the pole vaulter in California – a senior in high school – who was the last competitor in the championship meet. She cleared the height to give her school its first-ever league title. As the girls and their parents celebrated, the coach of the losing team walked over to an official and pointed to his wrist. Then he pointed to the girl, who was wearing a small string friendship bracelet. Seems there is a rule – Section 3, Article 3 of the National Federation of State High School Associations – that states: “Jewelry shall not be worn by contestants.” The penalty is “the competitor is disqualified from the event.”

Officials discussed the situation and decided to disqualify the girl, thus awarding the title to the second place team. Afterward, the coach who pointed out the infraction – he’s 54 – said: “It’s unfortunate for the young lady. But you’ve got to teach the kids the rules are rules… I feel bad for what happened, but I guarantee you she’ll never wear jewelry during a track meet again.”

With adults acting like this, is it surprising when executives from the three companies involved in the Gulf oil rig disaster appeared before Congress this week, each chose to raise questions about their partners’ liability? Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) summarized the day’s finger pointing: “The conclusion that I draw is that nobody assumes responsibility.”

Perhaps it’s time to start reiterating those lessons you learned in kindergarten and many appear to have forgotten: 1) Maintain composure no matter how stressful the situation – or take time out; 2) Winning isn’t everything – but sportsmanship is the measure of a person; and 3) Accept responsibility – regardless of the consequences you face.

Why do grown-ups make things so hard?

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