Yesterday it was announced that the NAIA has decided to move the NAIA DII Men’s Basketball Tournament from Branson, Mo. after 18 years. This comes after College of the Ozarks became upset that the national office wouldn’t require all student athletes to stand for the national anthem. (Full Story – pay no attention to my comment trolling in the section below the story, haha)
I’ll let you read the story for the full details. However, after 24 hours and seeing all the interactions I felt it was necessary to dust off my NAIA media credentials and comment.I’ll begin by saying this and please read my full statement: I stand for the National Anthem and my belief is that everyone should honor the flag and those who have died defending it. However, I also believe that the flag represents the freedoms we are allowed in this country to peacefully protest and have an opinion that isn’t that of everyone else. AKA, if you want to kneel that’s your right and if doesn’t matter if I like it or not.
Through the year’s I’ve had many private and public criticisms of the NAIA national office and some of the decisions they’ve made. We haven’t always seen eye to eye. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t speak up when I actually agreed with a major controversial decision they’ve made.
College of the Ozarks effectively drew a line in the sand and said “No stand, no play.” They put all their cards on the table and they lost. The NAIA decided respecting the wishes of each individual institution outweighed satisfying the approach of one institution.
The biggest issue I have with College of the Ozarks is a quote from their president Jerry C. Davis in which he said, “Their decision contradicts their own character emphasis that identifies respect as a key trait, and we believe they are missing a golden opportunity to teach student-athletes about the honor due our country and its Veterans.”
Evidently he’s one of those guys that read the words “Champions of Character” but didn’t actually read through what he NAIA meant and taught in the program. It’s spelled out pretty directly on the web site. Here’s a screen shot of exactly what the NAIA has on the website.
Be Accepting. . .that’s probably the one area that the Prez of COO didn’t read. It’s a core value taught by the program. Telling the NAIA to draft a policy that make the rest of the association follow your views. . .well that’s not very accepting.
That’s the problem with people like Jerry C. Davis. They take a very broad term like “Champions of Character” and when they don’t get their way, they attack the NAIA by saying “Well that’s not very good character.”
Go through the program. Read what the NAIA says. Then you might understand what is going on here.
In reality, I believe this whole situation really boils down to two things:
- The NAIA is the boss. They are the national office. When the buck stops, it stops with them. In this case an employee gave the boss an ultimatum. “You have to do this. . .or else I won’t do this.” That doesn’t work in business and that doesn’t work in sports. When you tell the boss they have to do something or else, more often than not the boss is going to side with “or else.”
- College of the Ozarks wanted out of hosting the tournament. After 18 years of hosting a fantastic event this was an easy way to say they wanted to be done. To throw away an event that has been ran as well as it has because the NAIA wouldn’t make every school in the association adopt your personal policy is extremely short sited. Take the fact this is about the anthem out of the equation. What if a Catholic school was hosting the event and said that on the Friday of the tournament that no meat could be eaten by anyone participating or attending the event? Everyone would go crazy. So it’s not crazy for the NAIA to say “We respect your view but we won’t adopt your view.”
College of the Ozarks hasn’t done their NAIA DII counterparts any favors either. Talks in the NAIA are heating up again about having just one national tournament and doing away with DI and DII. Eliminating themselves as the longtime NAIA DII host only fuels the fire for the NAIA to go back to one tournament.
I’ll paraphrase Nate Boyer to wrap this up. We need to stop drawing lines in the sand. We need to stop saying “if you aren’t with us, you’re against us.” We need to stop hating the person across the street because they don’t have the exact same views as us and the person across the street needs to understand our views. We need to be the UNITED States of America. I don’t have all the answers but the answers don’t come from not listening to and respecting each other.