Monday, 22 September 2008

No Press for Character (but actually 418)

If you’re a fan of the NFL, football or sports in general, you know the story of what happened in Denver last Sunday with referee Ed Hochuli. If you don’t, you can find it here. Do I think the NFL competition committee should make it possible for referees to correct mistakes like this during the game? Absolutely. But I’m more concerned with the integrity and character that Mr. Hochuli has shown. I wish more people were talking about it.

Hochuli blew the call. Knew he blew the call but couldn’t do anything about it. He apologized publicly for his mistake. He spent the week fielding—and even answering—hate mail from fans. Then on Sunday he flew to Baltimore, put his stripes on and did his job.

This is the kind of guy I hope to be. I wish guys like him would get more press for how they respond to the adversity they face. But because there’s no meltdown, because he didn’t do anything else to cause a headline, because he did exactly what a man of integrity should do, the culture monster lost interest and went looking for juicier fodder.

And this is what I don’t get about our society. We all say we want better role models for our kids. We lament the lack of integrity found in Hollywood, on football and baseball fields, on the hardwood. We talk in public forums about the need for better values, better morals. And then we get what we ask for. A guy like Hochuli passes through the headlines for something he did wrong. He responds in EXACTLY the way we say we want our heroes and role models to respond. But we don’t take notice. We all but ignore him.

Why? Because he didn’t rush out of his house without his cell phone with a gun in the glove compartment? Because he didn’t refuse to do his job? Because he didn’t act like a spoiled celebrity? I can’t think of any other reason.

Isn’t this the kind of role model we want for our kids? He does his job, admits when he makes a mistake, and then gets back to work. Why isn’t Ed Hochuli at the center of our national conversation right now?

Situations like this expose how broken and upside-down our cultural machine is. Which in turn exposes how broken I am, because as much as I want Hochuli to recognized and heralded, I’m scanning headlines for the latest on VY, waiting for the next meltdown.

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