West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

... on How Sports Teach Athletes to Accept Life's Injustices

As I have suggested in previous columns, a certain amount of injustice does exist in all sports at every level of competition. The more I consider this reality in athletics, the more I feel that quite possibly such acts of poor judgment (or mistakes), that unfairly penalize the innocent competitor, may have some redeeming qualities. Now, I know what you're thinking; Welker's finely gone over the deep end. But hear me out.

Keep in mind, the mission of schools, and the activities associated with them, is to prepare students to be productive citizens in our society. This includes preparing them for the many adversities they will have to face as adults. One of these hardships is the "inequity" that a person is often confronted with throughout his existence in this world. Yes, life is not always fair.

When coaches and officials make errors that hurt the athlete, they do so with no malice in mind. However, many malicious individuals hurt others intentionally during the course of daily living, without remorse. Shouldn't future adults also be prepared to deal with this unfair fact of life?

For example, as a teacher, I'm a disciplinarian in the classroom, who demands appropriate student-behavior. Of course, some of my proteges feel that I am a bit harsh at times. My respond to them is: "I may seem cruel, but I'm "fair" when administering justice in this classroom. Many individuals out there (pointing to the window) will be cruel to you, without justification. So you better be ready expect such wickedness when you reach adulthood."

In sum, I worry about kids who have never experienced some form of injustice while growing up. They're in for a rude awakening when they step into the real world, and it may be too overwhelming for them to psychologically accept. At the very least, exposure to some unfairness in athletics will prepare students to face adversity in life head on.

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Updated September 9, 1997