Alan Clark

I have commented in the past about the lack of altruism in today’s society, especially in college and professional sports.

This article was previously submitted but not published, so I am resurrecting these thoughts in light of some things going on currently.

It has become a habit these days for some student-athletes at major universities with a decent shot at being drafted by a National Football League franchise in the first round to “sit out” their team’s final regular season or bowl game, just to ensure there is no chance of injury or some other calamity which would negatively affect their NFL worth.

I’m sorry, but I’m old-fashioned.

Whatever happened to the concept of “TEAM,” of the term altruism, of the ideal of doing something for a cause larger than yourself?

This selfish response in favor of a possible future worth millions in potential earnings over being a part of the organization which helped you get where you are is typical of how we raise our youth today.

It’s all about the trophy and the prize — everything else is secondary.

What would have happened if Gen. George Washington had decided that winning the Revolutionary War was not as important as taking care of his Mount Vernon estate, and that, since it was planting time, he needed to step down as leader in the final push to victory rather than risk personal financial loss?

What would have been the outcome if Gen. Dwight Eisenhower had given up hope of victory on June 6, 1944, and that regardless of what it would do, he needed to save himself for a potential shot at being elected president, foregoing the D-Day landings for a trip back to Washington to do some politicking?

Where are the players who turned down opportunities to go pro early, like Peyton Manning and many others, for another season at their institution, maybe to earn a degree or see next year’s team through to a possible championship?

Luckily, there are still a few out there.

None other than LSU and Georgia are examples of this year’s teams that will not have the services of valuable players because they decided to forego playing in their college’s bowl games at the end of the season.

It’s just football, you say.

No, athletics is life. The lessons learned there are valuable and maturing. The decisions made reflect the kind of person the student-athlete is, what their life’s philosophy means, what kind of future player and human being they will be.

Playing hurt is a thing of the past, it seems.

Lou Gehrig played hurt all the time on his way to his consecutive game record in Major League Baseball.

Nowadays, a hangnail can sideline a player for days, weeks, at a time when possibly the team needs them the most.

If we in our time had pulled this shenanigan, we probably would have been banned or branded for life from ever participating again. The loss would be the individual’s, not the team’s. Someone always steps up.

Folks, there are causes bigger than the individual. It is what is meant by the term altruism, teamwork, selfless service, sacrifice; the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

There are thousands of people, from military to first responders, who put their lives on the line for something or someone else as a way of life. They are not given an option of whether to face the dangers, put themselves in the line of fire, in harm’s way.

Luckily, they are open to the challenge and consider it an honor to serve, and that’s the way it oughtta be.

Alan Clark’s “auditorials” are available as podcasts on iTunes and on his website at alclarkvoice.com.