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John Scolinos retired after coaching baseball for 42 years. In 1996, he asked more than 4000 baseball coaches the following questions: 

  • How wide is home plate in Little League baseball? 
  • Do you know how wide home plate is in high school, college and the major leagues?

In case you don’t know, it’s 17 inches.

“Seventeen inches!” Scolinos confirmed. “And what do they do with a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over 17 inches? They send him to Pocatello! What they don’t do is this: They don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s OK, Jimmy. If you can’t hit a 17-inch target, we’ll make it 18 inches or 19 inches. We’ll make it 20 inches so you have a better chance of hitting it. If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say 25 inches.’

Scolinos encouraged coaches to uphold the sport’s standards for everything from attendance and tardiness to behavior and personal appearance. 

Why? Because there can be massive consequences when people fail to meet standards.

Consider this: At least 15 touches are necessary to ensure the safety of donated blood before it can be given to someone who needs it. If any one of those 15 touches are missed or incorrectly completed, serious issues could result for the recipient.  

When it comes to building overpasses and bridges, engineers carefully calculate weight, force and stress to determine how to build the right kind of structures to accommodate traffic flow. It would be unacceptable for the structural engineers to say they were pretty sure they got their calculations right. One degree, plus or minus, could result in a catastrophic collapse – and it could be the difference between life and death.

Is it better to bend the rules or the standards in an attempt to make children feel better about themselves, or is it more beneficial to teach children how to accomplish the goal the way it was intended to be met? 

Scolinos warned the coaches that failing to hold themselves and those in their sphere of influence to a high standard would result in dark days ahead. 

Before passing away in 2009, Scolinos imparted much coaching wisdom over the years that is still useful in all areas of life. While times have changed, people still count on quality and safety standards for air travel, automakers, restaurants, schools, hospitals, hotels, etc. 

It’s pretty clear that teaching the importance of accountability starts early and in the home, but it extends far beyond that. In fact, setting and holding to standards lets people know what to expect and where to aim. It holds them accountable if the standards are not met. Should we expect anything less?

Click here to read the entire article, which originally published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on January 13, 2019.

Brock Allen Turner is the Stanford University student who was found guilty of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman who had been at an on-campus party in January 2015.

The story initially made the news when two graduate students riding their bikes across campus witnessed the scene unfolding and came to the woman’s aid. The two called police and held Turner at the scene until they arrived.

While the jury found Turner guilty on all counts, the judge only sentenced him to six months in jail.

The judge stated, “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him. I think he will not be a danger to others.”

At Turner’s sentencing, the victim read him a letter describing the assault’s impact on her life. If you have not read this letter, it is worth your time to do so. It can be found here.

Adding to the troubling aspect of the crime, Turner has confessed that he was drunk. He has stated that he wants to visit college campuses to talk about the dangers of alcohol and sexual promiscuity, but what he does not want to talk about is sexual assault. In fact, in some instances, Turner is being portrayed as the victim.

How can that be? When did it become acceptable behavior to take advantage of someone who is drunk?

Parents can teach their kids to be responsible and accountable for their actions.

Turner’s father wrote a letter to the judge, requesting leniency for his son, explaining that “his son’s life has been deeply altered forever by the events of January 17th and 18th…now he barely consumes any food and eats only to exist. These verdicts have broken and shattered him and our family in so many ways. His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve. That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20-plus years of life.”

When their children become teenagers, parents frequently tell them, “You only live once; enjoy it because it won’t ever be this way again.” What parents sometimes neglect to say is “What you do or do not do in middle school, high school and beyond can impact you for the rest of your life.”

Turner was not the victim in this situation. Two lives and two families are forever changed because of his behavior.

What happened is awful on all counts. In so many situations today, many people believe their actions have no consequences.

How can you help your child make good choices?

  • Teach teens what it means to be respectful of others my modeling responsibility and accountability.

  • Make sure they understand the definition of sexual assault. Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the recipient’s explicit consent.

  • Hold your child accountable for their behavior, even at an early age. They will be held accountable in the real world.

  • Your teen needs to know that “Everybody else is doing it” does not justify wrong behavior.

It’s painful to watch young people struggle to find their way. While they’re in your home, diligently teach them how to live responsibly away from your care. Young people have a mind of their own and they will make mistakes. As a parent, you can walk with them, and model responsibility and accountability without shielding them from the consequences.