Sunday, March 13, 2011

Zero Tolerance, Zero Sense


Two good kids. Two broken rules. Two parables of justice, except one offers a bracing lesson in honor and the other just leaves you heartsick at the latest evidence that zero tolerance often makes zero sense.

One kid made headlines: Brandon Davies, star Brigham Young basketball player whose team was heading toward its first Final Four ever — until it emerged that he had violated the Mormon school's strict honor code, with its injunction to "live a chaste and virtuous life." He had apparently slept with his girlfriend, an act that would barely register on most campuses, where athletes' failing grades, drunken sprees and loutish behavior are ignored as long as the players keep putting points on the board. BYU could have let Davies keep playing while the honor-code office "investigated," but school officials were steadfast. Davies' teammates, whose hopes were also crushed, said they bore him no malice and considered him a brother. The crowd roared in ovation when he returned to the arena, in street clothes, to cheer on his team. (Is the BYU controversy good for college sports?)

It would have been so easy to excuse him just this once — win a championship, reap the glory. But the players did the hard work that true forgiveness requires, offered it even as they lost their next game by 18 points, saw their championship hopes fade, knew potential recruits would surely pause. "BYU knows all this stuff, and it suspended the kid anyway," noted Los Angeles Times sportswriter Bill Plaschke, "and if you don't believe in its code, you have to love its honor." [...]


  1. I commend BYU, religion is more important than sports. TIME magazine will never understand that. I hate TIME magazine for several reasons, this is just going to be added to the list.

  2. E-Man,

    If you bothered to read the complete article before you made your commenet you would see that the Time supports the punishment.

    Which brings us back to Brandon Davies and why his punishment has been applauded rather than condemned. He chose the school, signed the honor code, knew what was expected — and confessed to falling short.


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