Men of Integrity, Please Step Forward

The college football world was shaken again last week, with another big-name coach under fire. This time, ground zero is Columbus, Oh, and the beloved Ohio State Buckeyes. But the incident has nothing to do with football, and everything to do with integrity.

The issue revolves around whether or not head coach, Urban Meyer, knew about the domestic abuse accusations against one of his assistant coaches. In a recent press conference, Meyer stated one thing, while subsequent reports seem to say otherwise. If you want to read the latest details, you can follow the Columbus Dispatch here

Meyer, his assistance coach, and university staff are being questioned for how they handled the truth of what happened. As I write this, the university investigation is underway. I am not attempting to impugn the characters in this story, or even conclude guilt or innocence. The truth, or most of it, will come out soon enough. Rather, I want to look at this through a different lens.

It's Not About Football

As I mentioned, this has little to do with football itself. It could just as easily be set inside the corporate world, in a church, or in Hollywood. I imagine other recent headline stories are already coming to your mind — men in a position of power doing things which abuse that power or others. This is an old storyline to be sure, but in the last year has gotten much attention.

The word integrity, in this context, means upright, doing the right thing, having good morals, etc. But there is another dimension to it: the state of being whole and undivided. Said differently, having integrity is about being consistent, being your whole self, regardless of the situation, or who’s watching. The implications of that dimension on how we show up in life are significant.

In addition to coaching, I work with fathers and boys through The Next Man Up, trying to raise up the next generation to be men of integrity, honesty, and with strong moral principles; men who are integrated and whole. This is not the regular picture we get of men today. That is not to say they don’t exist. But if you examine our culture, entertainment, government, business, what you too often find is men behaving in a dishonorable way. Sometimes in a very destructive way. 

Double Standard

It seems to me that a dichotomy exists when judging men here. On one hand, men are “just being men,” whatever that means. We are given so many mixed messages today from TV, music, media, culture. From the sexual aggressor, to bumbling idiot, to unneeded nuisance, to being a man’s man, the expectations are just not clear.

Yet, we seem to instinctively know that being a true man means more. Why else is there disappointment, even outrage, when men live up to these low or confusing expectations? Phrases like “man up” or “be a man” come to mind, implying men should know what to do and then do it. That is often the case. But, how can we both expect less from men and then be disappointed when they achieve it?

We cannot have it both ways. If we want a society that honors women, tells the truth, exhibits integrity, then we must teach, train, and equip our young men to live that way. That starts at home. Which means we must take a long hard look in the mirror. It starts with us. In this case it’s not #metoo, but #mefirst. Until we come to grips with the gap between our expectations and behavior, with how we prepare and train our young men to behave as men, then we will continue to face scandals like we’re seeing.

Additionally, we’ve got to hold men accountable when they don’t live with integrity, whether they are the pizza chain CEO, a Big 10 team doctor, a local priest, or an elected leader. We need higher standards, higher expectations, and men courageous enough to live up to them. Only then will we begin to change course.

So, here’s the definition of integrity again: the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness; the state of being whole and undivided. May it be a challenge for you to expect more, from yourself AND from those around you.



Categories: ManhoodNumber of views: 771

Tags: Urban Meyer football OSU integrity

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