High School Athletics, Ethics and Leadership Lessons
The 2002 season was a dream season. Mike Slaughter’s Marquette Catholic High School football team was 10-0. A spotless season was in the pocket as Slaughter’s team approached its first-ever state championship. This team was good, really good. Coach Slaughter, like his players, had worked hard at the basics – blocking, tackling, hitting the holes and he emphasized the importance of following rules. Rules, laws really, like no alcohol, tobacco or drugs; any infraction would result in suspension.
One night 16 starters, including Slaughter’s son, were busted for underage drinking. The coach was forced to make a tough decision. For Slaughter it was all about ethics, accountability, playing by the rules and winning. All 16 dressed, sat and cheered on their teammates as they lost the state championship 63-0.
Fast forward to the 2011-12 North Dakota High School basketball season. Red River is on the verge of a perfect regular season. During their final game, a week before playoffs, Red River, the only un-defeated team in Class A, loses to Wahpeton with a last second shot. Following the game, at least two starters became vandals and trashed the locker room in the house they just played in as guests. These now law breaking vandals received supposedly harsh disciplinary actions. In addition to writing an apology, one player was suspended for a half game and the other a full game. Oh, and of course they will pay for the damages. According to accounts there were other players in the locker room while it was being trashed.