I know this blog is supposed to focus on entrepreneurism in the Intermountain West so I’ll do my best to make this post relevant, though I suspect I’ll fall short. Last night the #14 ranked Boise State Broncos hosted the #16 ranked PAC 10 Oregon Ducks. It was billed as the biggest home game in BSU’s history and the Broncos didn’t let their faithful fans down. Our defense simply shut down the much-ballyhooed Oregon offense, including star running back and (before this game?) Heisman candidate LeGarrette Blount who had popped off to the press leading up to the game about payback for last year’s loss to the Broncos at home.
Well, BSU’s defense absolutely demolished Blount and his offensive mates, simply beating them senseless. Blount had 8 carries for -5 yards and was tackled in the endzone for a key safety. Blount and his teammates were humiliated and embarrassed. Then it really got ugly, if you haven’t read about or seen it yet, right after the game a BSU player approached Blount and obviously gave him some verbal jousting. Blount completely lost his cool and sucker punched the BSU player in the jaw. A melee ensued and Blount was carried off the field by coaches and police, and even got into it with some fans on the way out.
I want to start with this: In no way do I condone what Blount did. It was completely out of line and athletes need to understand where to draw the line and that this sort of behavior is unacceptable. Having said that, I awoke this morning to read about a firestorm in the local (and some national) news and social media outlets calling for Blount to be kicked off the team and banished from College Football.
I’m sorry but I think this is shortsighted and complete overkill. We as a society have bred our athletes (particularly football players) to be modern-day gladiators. I think very few people calling for Blount to be exiled have a clue as to primal rage that has been cultivated and fostered in this young man to play football at the highest level. We are demanding more and more from our athletes from a performance perspective to the point where the highlight on ESPN each night is the biggest hit that knocks the runner or wide receiver into the next week and then, in an instant, we expect them to turn that rage off immediately and act like the upstanding citizens each and every one of us are.
We are throwing rocks in a glass house folks. Do you text and drive? Do you let your kids consume obscene amounts of high fructose corn syrup, essentially feeding them poison every day? I can make a strong case that each of these activities are crimes far worse to our society than a kid throwing a punch after being humiliated in front of millions on national TV. Do you have any idea what goes on between lineman at the line of scrimmage or in a pile after a fumble? Now had Blount been at a party or a restaurant and done the same thing, he should be treated the same as any of us.
C’mon, the kid threw a punch. he’s TWENTY YEARS OLD for cripes sakes. Thank goodness my investors don’t hold me accountable for what I did when I was 20 because they sure wouldn’t be trusting me with tens of millions of dollars today. Banish him from college sports? Really? Do you have any idea what that kid will be doing in five years if we do that? Suspend him for a game, or two games. Make him go to high schools in Oregon and talk to football players about the mistake he made. But banish him? Goodness gracious, what are we becoming?
So how does this all relate to technology start-ups and entrepreneurism? I guess for me is that I’m drawn to technology for how blind it is to qualitative judgment. Tech start-ups don’t care if you’re black or white. They don’t care if you have tattoos or wear crappy clothing. Tech startups are extremely tolerant and I guess that’s what I’m hoping that this post will make everyone think about before they lynch LeGarrette Blount. He’s a kid who made a mistake. He apologized immediately afterwards and seemed to show genuine remorse. I know I made my share of them when I was young. I’m sure glad that social media wasn’t around then because I’d be sweeping floors today…