Tom Brady and the High School Student Athlete

7.7 million high school students play sports. According to Bryan Toporek in Education Week football “sits at the top of the participation list with 1,108,441 student athletes participating during the 2010-11 school year.” With that many students playing sports, guess who their role models will be? Lee Steinberg in “Why Do We Make Athletes Role Models” summarizes this neat little equation when he says, “ I have built a 40-year career in representation around the belief that athletes are role models and can trigger imitative behavior…. This country needs role models and athletes have both an incredible opportunity and responsibility to use their power for good.”

In one fell swoop, Tom Brady and his sidekicks have made all my lessons and guidance to my students null and void. Here’s why:

  1. Everyone does it-I have heard that in my classroom a million times, and now rabid fans across the United States are echoing this statement. Then they are surprised when their sweet child Snowflake is caught cheating, because he or she would never do that. Maybe it is time to stop the cheating in professional sports if it is rampant. And stop giving excuses that a twelve-year can and does spew.
  1. I don’t know anything-If you don’t stand up for what is right you stand for absolutely nothing. The. Bottom. Line.
  2. The end justifies the means-A house built on a poor foundation will not stand strong. Yes, the Patriot’s have many accolades and accomplishments, but how did they achieve these rewards? The child who works hard in my room to get his or her B’s and C’s is far better than a child who cheats for his or her A’s. We cannot afford to imply for one moment that the cheater is rewarded, or the whole house falls down.
  3. They would have won anyway-Yes, they would have won, but the Patriots should not have even been playing. The rules on the field and in the classroom are simple, if you cut corners and use dishonest means to gain something; your punishment is swift, appropriate, and necessary. This is called a life lesson and most of my 16-17 year old students understand it. One of the first things learned in pre-school is we do not take things they do not belong to us. This is called stealing, and it is bad.
  4. The study was biased-This is the equivalent of the school complaints such as “The teacher doesn’t like me” or “You always pick on me.” If kindergartners on the playground know these excuses do not fly, why doesn’t the NFL? Take your punishment and let the 11.1 million high school watchers see you admit you made a mistake.

Tom Brady, Super Bowl quarterback, needs to do the right thing for teachers, student-athletes, parents, fans, and even his own children-he needs to admit he cheated and take his punishment.