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Sep 04


Posted by: Mark Solon        

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.

The view of "The Blue" at last night's game

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…



8 Responses to “Tolerance”

  1. I respect your views on this, Mark. If this was the first offense and not a repeat problem, I'd be right there with you. (BTW we shouldn't just discuss "the punch" — the behavior that followed was much worse.) Those of us who follow Oregon know he was suspended from practice for similar behavior and has had several run-ins before that which were not addressed at all.

    This is not a tolerance issue. It is not a football issue. And it certainly isn't a tattoo issue. It went from a personal behavior issue to a leadership issue: how will Coach Kelly respond to a person who, despite attempts to help him, continues behavior that disrespect the team, the school, the fans, and himself?

    As for banishing him…is there some sort of God-given right to play Division I football? I'm an Oregon alum. To me, what the NCAA does is irrelevant. All that matters is how Coach Kelly responds. I don't care if Blount plays football. I just don't want thugs like representing my alma mater.

    I wish Blount the best. I hope he gets help. I hope he turns into a productive, educated member of society. I believe he can do this without football. He probably needs to do it without football.

    As for entrepreneurism connections, I think we should be discussing why ethics and actions matter more than lip-service. Or the difference between confidence and cockiness. Or how one person can be poison to an organization. Or how mistakes are OK, but how not learning from mistakes is not OK.

    …I'm officially done discussing this. Thanks for the discussion.

  2. […] this page was mentioned by Jeff Reynolds (@jcreynolds), Travis Franklin (@tsfranklin), Mark Solon (@hwy12) and others. […]

  3. avatar Rick says:

    As a former HS football, basketball coach and a competitive soccer coach I have a hard time agreeing with your line of thinking. A major part of participating in organized sports is learning to deal with this exact kind of situation. When kids (and he is a kid) find them selves in this kind of situation and react outside of the bounds of expectations they must suffer the consequences. What those consequences should be is entirely up to those individuals and organizations associated with the incident. Given prior actions (as reported) where this ended up is probably appropriate. What was the "learning" from this incident. I think Jeff has it right and I would add dealing with difficult situations and stress, something all teams and companies will deal with during their existence. Reaction in the heat of the moment can be the difference between succes and failure and we should all be prepared for that. I appreciate your passion but cut back on the high fructose sugar. :-)

    • avatar Mark Solon says:

      Great response Rick and I've got strong feelings about consequences for our actions as well. I've got a 9 yr old who plays hockey and like football, hockey is a very physical sport where tempers can run high and we talk about this alot.

      On the other hand, this was a highly charged atmosphere where a kid made a mistake. Yes he's made them before but I still think a full year's suspension is too much. We're so quick to punish and less interested in solutions where good can come from it. I still think that had they suspended him for a game or two, but made him talk to young athletes (lots and lots of these), more good could have come from this.

      This won't be the last time a punch is thrown in sports. Football in particular is like the gladiators in Rome. The kid was provoked and then the reply operator in the stadium showed the punch over and over again, creating a riotous environment. Lots of bad decisions made. I hope Blount can come back from this and channel it into something positive.

  4. avatar Ron Meyers says:


    I understand what you are saying, and I might agree if this were Mr. Blount's first football game. I didn't play much football (too small) but I played a lot of baseball. I was playing in an organized league when I was 8 years old. I played on some very good teams, and some very very bad teams. By the time I was 20 years old, I was in the twilight of my baseball career, a veteran of hundreds of games and a dozen coaches. I knew better than to throw a bat or spit on an umpire, I was experienced enough to ignore the jeers from the bleachers, and I definitely knew the consequences of throwing a punch at another ballplayer.

  5. avatar Mark Solon says:

    Great points Ron. I was a baseball player too but have good friends who played football at a high level. I think football in particular cultivates a rage unlike other sports. A jeer from a bleacher is different than a guy who's been trying to take your head off for the last 3 hours rubbing it in. Blount was wrong, flat out wrong and like my comment above, should be suspended for a game or two with a warning that the next time he's out for the year, along with some significant community (high school) involvement. I just hope Blount doesn't wind up blackballed from the NFL because he was thrown out of college football for throwing a punch. Seems excessive to me…

    • avatar Ron Meyers says:

      As I ponder this further, this may not be Mr. Blount's first football game, but it may be Mr. Blount's first real bout with football-related frustration. Given his obvious incredible talent, he may just now be reaching a level where the competition is as good as he is, and he can't always come out on top.

      Now that sounds like something the start-ups and entrepreneurs can relate too!

  6. avatar Mark Solon says:

    Very good insight Ron, hadn't thought of that!

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