Gophers football and our responsibility as educators

Erin Cole

Dear President Kaler,

Part of the justification for coupling sport with academe is that sports contribute to the development of character. Elements of developing good character include looking out for those less powerful,, standing up for what’s right over what’s popular and understanding that actions have consequences.

Ten Gopher football players experienced consequences for their actions. It appears, though, that the lesson hasn’t taken at the team level. As educators, let us not fail in our duty. Help these students understand what good character asks of them. Let them understand the consequences of their actions.

Ours is a research driven institution. When asked about the possibility of losing their scholarships, one of the senior Gophers responded, “We’re in this together. What, are they going to pull 120 guys off the team?” If this is the nature of inquiry they’re passionate about, I urge you to let them explore the possibilities inherent in their question.

As for those 120 scholarships, I expect we could find 120 University students who could use them. If the team believes their actions are principled, let them have the courage of their convictions. This too is a great lesson.

Ever yours in the advancement of knowledge,

Erin Cole

Doctoral Candidate

Department of Communication Studies

University of Minnesota

Editor’s Note: This letter was written before news of Tracy Claeys’ termination broke, but we believe the sentiment and ideas in this letter are still relevant to our campus community. This letter has been lightly edited for style.