How is it that incidents like the Michigan State or the Olympic gymnastics scandals happen?
Their reason “WHY” is broken.
Their adults have forgotten why they are there. The value system and the priority of why they matter are broken.
Both can be fixed. Both must be fixed.
Any athletic or academic department, no matter the level, must have their why on the marquee. It must be on the sleeve, on the chest, and on the agreement. “This” is why we are here. “This” is why it matters. “This” is the first thing.
How about this? Decide what the first thing is, and keep it first.
If the thing is academics, say it. If the thing is winning, say it. If the thing is creating positive experiences, a community of intelligent, loving people, or creating a nation of decent human beings, say it. If faith matters, it must be constant. If the bottom line matters, it must be constant. The confusion of why leads to a lack of focus, direction, or purpose. The confusion leads to a lack of accountability. We can fix this.
Decide what the why is. Then, say it. Then, repeat it. Done. If actions do not confirm this, change the actions to match the why. If your actions do not match where you said you need to go, you’re allowed to change directions. You are required to change directions.
If the young people are not following direction, change the direction. If academics are the focus, and actions do not match the focus, point to the focus. Point to the North Star. Say, THAT is where we are going. I said we. The adults and the young people. Together, they must go.
If the adults aren’t leading them to the place they promised to, the young people have the right to say so. THIS is not where you said we would go. THIS is not how you said we were going to get there. If they aren’t going anywhere, say so. Why aren’t we moving?
All of this starts at the top. The signatures on the paycheck. The keyholders. The people who turn on the lights. The people who write agreements. They must be clear about why they are there. To lead. To remind. To redirect. To applaud actions. To correct misdirection. To stand loudly in the light for those wandering in the dark. If the rest do not know who is leading, or where to go, to get right, all is lost. Everyone is lost.
Michigan State is an institute of higher learning. Intelligence, facts, and wisdom should be simple. The Spartans can say who they are and then redirect anyone who wants or claims to be there for the right reasons. They can celebrate those in the right. They can remove those in the wrong. If winning is the thing, say so. If the university is about academics, say so. If it is about the business of either, say so. Pretty simple.
The US Olympic team needs to state why it exists. Is it the best in us? Is it the shell for money makers and check cashers? Is it for the young people, old people, or the best people of any age? Is it the best this nation has to offer?
Ask why. Why are you here? The answers should open eyes. The question is simple. So are the answers.
I hope the leaders have a great answer. We know that the young people need answers. We know that they need leaders.
Keep the first thing first.