Character, it can be argued, cannot be built; it can only be demonstrated.
We can find clear examples of individual character. Places where two roughly similar people, of similar background, at a similar place and time, are faced with a similar challenge react in different ways.
The harder the challenge, the more the clear distinction of character it brings out.
The greatest challenges are often those that you bring on yourself through you own bad decisions. Those that challenge every person's weak spot - their ego. The desire to avoid shame, ridicule, or having to publicly be held to account.
For example, from Don Markus at the BaltSun;
.... after he and three teammates he declined to name were found to be in violation of academy regulations that prevent midshipmen from having any type of off-campus housing other than to stay with a guest family.We'll get back to that in a minute. Remember our friend Proctor?
Academy officials learned about the house after a party was held there the night of the spring football game in mid-April.
"We knew what we were getting ourselves into, and we knew we were putting ourselves at risk," (Jabaree) Tuani said recently. "We didn't think anything like this was going to happen. We thought it was going to be a low-key, under-the-radar-type deal where we could just relax."
Kriss Proctor, Navy’s starting quarterback last season, will not graduate from the Naval Academy. Proctor has submitted his resignation from the academy, a school spokesman confirmed to The Capital.Amazing what five months can bring out;
An inside source at the academy with knowledge of the situation told The Capital that Proctor’s resignation comes on the heels of an alleged honor code violation.
Proctor resigned from the academy around the same time, two months after he said he was caught cheating on a thermodynamics quiz. Proctor is now enrolled in classes for the fall semester at Boise State, where he is working as an unpaid intern for the school's No. 24-ranked football team.We'll revisit that too.
Though on the brink of graduation, Proctor said he chose to resign from the academy rather than fight the honor-code violation because he wanted to start working toward a career as a college football coach and didn't want to become a Navy pilot. Proctor will have to repay the Navy the cost of his college education, approximately $160,000.
Back to the focus of our post today;
Tuani graduated Friday, three months after the rest of the senior class, four months after he and three teammates he declined to name were found to be in violation of academy regulations that prevent midshipmen from having any type of off-campus housing other than to stay with a guest family.Both of these young men have been damaged by the Naval Academy's misplaced focus in D1 football and all the moral compromises that go with it.
When he learned he was not going to be able to graduate with the rest of his class, Tuani said, he was "very scared" he had risked losing his college degree and a chance at a military career for what he called "a rash decision." Tuani thought there was a "high chance" he was going to be dismissed from the academy.
Tuani, who is expecting to be sent to Japan shortly to begin officer training in surface warfare, said he chose to take his punishment because he didn't want to let down his family and the coaches who supported him during the remediation process and eventually came to his graduation.
The punishment included Tuani being restricted to the academy grounds for 45 days, marching in full uniform at 5:30 a.m. several days a week and then spending three weeks with the fleet this summer.
"I had to prove myself worthy again of being an officer," Tuani said. "Being an officer is all about decision-making, and our decision-making was in question."
Let us speak as adults here;
Academy officials learned about the house after a party was held there the night of the spring football game in mid-April.That is not a statement grounded in reality. Houses such as this have been an open secret for awhile. If a NROTC retired CDR has known about them, it beggars the imagination to believe that Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo or Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk did not know about the party houses.
Ensign Tuani deserves a nod from everyone involved. BZ to him for stepping up as a man, and by taking his punishment like such - he will be a better leader for it. The humility it brought him will refine his good character already demonstrated. I wish him the best in his career.
Now that you are feeling warm and fuzzy, let's go back to Gladchuck and Proctor.
... Gladchuk wrote a glowing recommendation to a number of schools on the former quarterback's behalf, saying that Proctor had "developed into a well-rounded, impressive young man" who "can continue to be a role model to those around him."Go back and read that again.
Gladchuk concluded by writing, "He leaves the Academy with our very best wishes and every expectation that he will continue to be highly successful in the future as a well-educated young man with an indisputable competitive spirit. He is a winner."
Is that the right attitude to come from a high official at the U.S. Naval Academy about a man who left in dishonor in the middle of a cheating scandal?
As for Proctor - who did not go to Annapolis so Proctor could? Is it any surprise this type of person quit?
"Ever since my sophomore or junior year in high school, I have known I want to be around football. I always thought about after college football, I wanted to get into coaching."...all that stuff." Indeed Mr. Proctor, indeed. Do you actually believe that - or are you making excuses for running away from facing your bad decisions? Either way, you never belonged at Annapolis, and the Fleet is better for you leading no one but ... whoever an unpaid coach intern leads in Idaho. I just feel sorry for the person whose slot you took at Annapolis.
"During my junior year [at Navy], I was selected to be an NFO [Naval Flight Officer], which requires seven to 10 years of commitment. I came to grips with the fact that maybe that I wouldn't start coaching until I was 30. I was kind of OK with that at the time, we were in the middle of football and you're not thinking long-term."
"I wouldn't trade my experience at the academy for the world. I had four years of meeting some of the greatest people in this country and building relationships with them that I will have the rest of my life. I grew up so much as a person, physically, mentally, all of that stuff. I got to experience a lot of things that normal college students don't get to experience. I got a top-notch education, not just academically, but in character and integrity. I feel nothing but blessed."
I want to end with a quote from Coach Niumatalolo, as I mostly agree with him here and he makes some very good points;
"They're human. We all make mistakes. The standard is high here, and nobody makes any apologies for that. We're trying to play football at the highest level and compete, and the administrators, professors and company officers are trying to prepare these young men and women to be officers in the military. If you don't live up to the standard, there are consequences.Yes coach, there is a conflict between trying to compete at D1 football and preparing men and women to be officers in the military. When one is in conflict with the other - then what is the priority?
"I just feel grateful that Jabaree stayed the course, he's going to graduate [and] I think he's a wonderful young man. ... He made a bad decision, he suffered the consequence and the academy was going to push him to see if he really wanted to be here. They said, 'Here are some priorities, here are some steps you have to do and any missteps you're gone.' Kriss got the same choices. He decided to go a different route. I wish he would [have] stayed and graduated."
People are also human - and by the permissive attitude towards football players, their human weakness if enabled. There are more compromises out there than just party houses. Before the next Tuani is led in to shoal water - ponder that a bit. The leadership at Annapolis can fix it, if - and this is a big if - they are willing to protect their institution from NAAA and those who are more interested in the performance of a sports team than they are the performance of tomorrow's junior officers.