Thursday, May 26, 2016

One Baylor Alum's Reflections on a Dark Day

First, let me say that I'm just a single voice and others will speak more eloquently and possibly more accurately.  Part of blogging for me has been a method of saying things that I couldn't get to without writing them.

I am so sad.

Baylor has fired Coach Art Briles, demoted President Ken Starr, and sanctioned A.D. Ian McCaw.  A damning report by an outside law firm has crushed many in the Baylor family.  Baylor failed - the kind of failure that all of its constituents feel.  We were not who we said we were.  My wife, the Queen, will tell you that I'm a cup half-full guy.  I was on this too.  No way my beloved Baylor was as bad as the rumors were.  The truth will win out and it will turn out okay somehow.  But no.  We were worse than most imagined.

We didn't learn much from Dave Bliss, apparently.  Athletics trumped righteousness (in the biblical sense of that word).  We valued disproportionately what was (and is) not all that valuable in the end.

And that's not the worst of it.

The worst of it is that there are ladies who are scarred for life whose stories are now interwoven with a national news cycle.  Anonymity and healing will be a lot harder now.  May God have mercy on them.

I am mad.

I am angry that athletes were allowed to treat others like this with impunity.  I am angry that there was no clear-headed person who could call it what it was.  I am angry that there were assumptions and arrogance and absences of judgment.

I am wary.

I am wary because, according to the report, there was a systemic failure of good-natured people.  I'm not talking about those who dismissed or failed to do their duty.  I'm talking about the people who thought that it wouldn't happen at Baylor.  I'm talking about the people who should have been working to put the appropriate Title IX systems in place but slow-rolled it because either (a) leadership above them didn't prioritize it or (b) they had other things on their plates or (c) some combination of both.

It's a terrible leadership lesson to learn.  Let me be clear:  as a Christian university, I actually think it's correct for administrators and other leaders to expect it not to happen at Baylor.  We ought to expect men not to act like animals, especially those who claim Christianity.  But just because we expect one thing doesn't mean we don't guard against another.  And that's the leadership lesson:  expect the best but have guards in place against the worse.

On a personal level, I know I've implemented this in my own life.  I expect faithfulness to God, my wife, and my family for life.  However, I have also built in some personal legalisms that guard against the dreaded "what could be."  We've taken steps recently as a church to do something similar regarding facility usage, etc.

O!  My heart hurts.

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