With the passing of Senator John McCain at his home in Sedona, Arizona on August 25, 2018, we find ourselves both a greater nation for having had him amongst us, but now a lesser one for having lost him. Today, the enduring qualities of duty, honor, and country that animated his life, and helped guide the nation through his six decades of public service have lost one of their great champions. This is especially so when compared to the qualities exhibited by the man who currently sits in the Oval Office, or rather, is next up on the 10th tee.
Perhaps only tangentially apropos, Sports Illustrated’s Tim Layden penned an article this past week regarding what he called the mythologizing of football and its over importance in the American psyche. Three things, wrote Layden, led him to his keyboard.
…a young athlete’s death (in Maryland), football fans’ frustration with rule changes designed to damage fewer brains, and a millionaire coach (Ohio State’s Urban Meyer) getting wrist-slapped for apparently ignoring an assistant coach’s repeated abuse against a woman…Each case is part of a football ecosystem in which the game itself is propped up as bigger and more important than anything that stands in its way.
And since disquieting news comes in threes, last week also saw the Dayton, Ohio school board announce a new academic standard for athletic eligibility, whereby students must now maintain a minimum 1.0 GPA on a scale of 0 to 4 in order to play sports. That’s right, students must achieve a grade level of D to remain eligible, a standard which suggests that athletic eligibility is more important than the education it was once meant to support.
The passing of Senator McCain with his old-world sense of duty, honor, and country; Tim Layden’s observations about the inflated role of football in today’s America; and Dayton’s new scholastic eligibility regulations are not isolated indicators (Going Soft). Instead they represent the latest reminders of a troubling erosion in the standards that designed, built, and fortified this nation over the course of two-plus centuries.
As ever, the road before us is twisting and beyond our GPS ability to ascertain. Yet if we come together and remain true to the principles embodied in John McCain, those challenges will be ours to manage and control. Conversely, if we continue in our headlong rush to split apart, we risk careening off the righteous path bestowed to us by our forefathers while reengineering society’s basic underpinnings and values, values which today already proclaim “I like people who weren’t captured”, “truth is not truth”, and “crime is not crime”.
RIP, John McCain. May your memory continue to light our path and strengthen our resolve in what promise to be troubled times ahead.