“To whom much is given, much is expected.” This verse comes from Luke 12:48. Last week I came across one of the greatest speeches I have ever heard an athlete make. It was made by Michigan State Quarterback Kirk Cousins at the 2011 Big Ten Media Day. Luke 12:48 was the crux of his message and it, along with Kirk’s speech, is this week’s motivation for the post.
I am privileged. If you are reading this and have access to clean water throughout the day, you too are privileged. The problem with us is too often we believe that being privileged brings entitlement. Our country, and the rest of the world, face so many problems right now. I believe many of them can be traced back to this: we have developed a deeply embedded sense of entitlement. We live in a world where much is expected, but not much is given. It should be complete opposite.
To open his speech, Cousins says, “Here in this place of privilege, danger lies.” I couldn’t agree more; the sense of privilege is a dangerous feeling. It leads many down the wrong path. Athletes are privileged and too often develop a sense of entitlement. I believe this comes from society’s emphasis on winning in sports. At a young age children are taught that winning is all that’s important. When kids get to high school and college they are given special privileges that lead to this sense of entitlement. This can include leniency with discipline or more serious offenses like cash payments. Now this doesn’t happen at every high school or college, but it does happen. Since society has assigned prestige to athletes this sense of entitlement has made its way into schools and homes. Too many people believe that just because they play, coach, sponsor, or are a parent of someone in a sport that they are better than others. They believe they should get more than others. Cousins, however, believes differently, and tells the audience, “Privilege should never lead to entitlement.” As a younger athlete I remember sometimes having the feeling that I should be able to catch a few breaks here and there. I was fortunate to have parents, teachers, and coaches who wouldn’t let that happen.
Another key point Cousins makes is that responsibility should be accepted. He says, “We as players have a responsibility to give our all.” In all phases of our society I see people who want but who are not willing to work. I see this with students and athletes all the time. Everyone wants to be the hero, wants to have the headlines, but very few are willing put in the work necessary to achieve great things. Cousin’s speech was great for many reasons, but the best part about it was the responsibility he accepted and challenged other athletes to accept. In the speech Cousins says, “We can redefine what’s cool for young people.” It’s not often you see a collegiate athlete talking about the long-term impact they can have on youth culture. There are too many kids out there who do not have positive role models. Too often they base who they are and what they do off of what they see on television. Television is a reflection of our society. Have you really paid attention to what is on TV these days? I sound like a grandpa saying that, but c’mon man, the stuff that is on TV and marketed towards our youth is CRA.
We all have a responsibility. To whom much is given. We can’t shy away from the responsibility that comes with privilege. My favorite line from this speech is this, “We have a responsibility to work hard in the classroom, as good stewards of the education that has been given to many of us free of charge.” We must get back to putting a higher emphasis on education and respect those who work in the field. I am fortunate to work in a great school district. However, I hear and see stories from fellow teachers across the state and country and just have to shake my head. There seems to be a lack of respect for those who work in the education field. Educators are not given the same respect as they once were. Students have a sense of entitlement today. We need to value the quality of education that is provided. Students need to take ownership over “their” education. They need to take more responsibility for their education. Teachers need to do a better job of relating to today’s students, motivating, and holding them more accountable. Parents need to reinforce what is taught at school in the home. They need to reinforce the respect and authority that educators must have in order to be effective. Not everyone in the world has access to a free education. Why has the United States dropped in educational world rankings? I believe entitlement is a large factor. Too many people believe they are entitled to get grades, diplomas, and jobs. Nothing comes free, and people need to quit being lazy. We live in a lazy society. We want a lot, but are not willing to work for it. I love this quote, “Many want to be a champion, but few are willing to work to become one.”
The reason why Kirk Cousins’ speech is so great is that he accepts and welcomes responsibility. He wants to be a role model for our youth. We need more people like him. I wish he would run for political office. Athletes should watch this speech over and over. It should be mandatory viewing for any athlete wishing to play a sport in high school and college. Whether or not they like it, athletes are automatically in a position of leadership. Athletes and coaches have a platform that few others do. Cousins states, “I don’t believe it’s too far-fetched to think that we as college football players can make a significant, positive impact on America’s youth culture.” All of us working in the athletic field must accept Mr. Cousin’s challenge. Instead of being examples of cheating, abuse, and entitlement; let’s be beacons of trust, leadership, and accountability.
What has made our country great were the sacrifices made and responsibility accepted by our grandparents’ generation. At times, I am embarrassed by what our society has become. Responsibility is shifted, and not accepted. Instead of rising and meeting challenges, people find an excuse on why they can’t do something. The bigger issue is that we are allowing this to happen. All of us are share blame for this, we either change it or allow it to happen. We let our children and students get away with being lazy and making excuses. We as adults and educators are failing to provide the proper leadership, and the correct level of accountability. I know and believe in my heart that all of us are capable of becoming great. We all (myself included) must take that long, uncomfortable look in the mirror. We must ask ourselves if we are being models of responsibility and accountability. Once we start holding ourselves accountable, we can then begin to hold others accountable. I’ll end with one last great line from this amazing speech, “We can set a new standard on how to treat others. We can embody what it means to be a person of integrity. We can show to young people that excellence in the classroom is a worthy pursuit.”
What are your thoughts?
Thanks for reading. Have a great week. Be a RGP!