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A Lesson Students Should Learn …

I know I am a little late with this post, but I thought I should post this anyway. During my brief hiatus, I have battled some kind of cold/sinus infection, survived homecoming, and made it all the way to fall break. While attempting to take a break, I have done no work for school, but I have helped my wife rearrange the first floor of the house. This should hopefully keep the kids toys neater and help insure a period of domestic tranquility, though I may pay for it since I didn’t get caught up/ahead at school. Oh well. On to the point of this post.

During the last few weeks it became public that Rush Limbaugh wanted to be a small part of a group that hope to buy the St. Louis Rams NFL team. (see article)  After much uproar, including opposition from the union, Al Sharpton, and even a current owner, Rush was removed from the ownership group. Rush is quoted in the last linked article as blaming the “left in this country” which wants to “destroy conservatism”. Nice try Rush. Most of the owners in professional sports are conservatives, and some have donated gobs (I think that is the technical term) of money to Republican candidates and causes.

What, then, is the cause? Why such uproar over his being a minority owner? Rush made the mistake of misunderstanding what the NFL (or any major sports league, or business) is about. It is about money. Rush should know that. His Excellence In Broadcasting is about making money too. Newsweek ran an article written by a conservative Republican claiming that Rush is killing Republican chances by giving liberals such an easy target. Why would Rush risk this? He’s making money hand over fist! Polarizing conservatives, and spouting loudly opinions that your listeners eat up is a fast way to make money, but doesn’t do much for winning moderates to your view.

What does this have to do with the NFL? The NFL is a business. It’s financial base is not the same as Rush’s. The NFL appeals to customers across the political spectrum. They have no interest in alienating part of their fan base. Do you think the NFL cares that Al Sharpton doesn’t like Rush? Maybe, maybe not. Do you think that they care about the union reaction, and players saying they would not play there? I am positive. Do they care that many people in this country cannot stand Rush, and would be turned off by his involvement, perhaps even enough to not renew season tickets in a tough economy as well as affecting sales of merchandise? Goodness, YES!

So it makes perfect sense the NFL would quietly, and not so quietly (there were the quotes from the owner above, as well as quotes from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as well), pressure the majority owner in this bid to push Limbaugh aside and choose someone more public relations friendly. Rush was eliminated because he had made many public statements that had formed a pretty good impression in most people’s minds about who Rush is, and what he stands for. Rush was left with two options: 1. Claim it is all part of an act for his show (and kill his show), 2. or claim discrimination (which he did). He is partially right. The NFL is discriminating against him, but not for being conservative. They are discriminating against him for being polarizing, something the NFL has no need for.


But what does this have to do with students? Many students today make great use of MySpace, Flickr, Twitter, and facebook. This puts their views, friendships, and interests out for others to see. Employers and prospective colleges or graduate schools may check this, depending on privacy settings. Colleges often have recruiters send friend requests to prospective students to gain access to hidden profiles. Employers may try the same thing. College residence life staff may find themselves torn when they see underage drinking in pictures posted to the facebook or MySpace pages of their residents.

I work at a Christian camp over the summer, and I know things posted to facebook have come up in staffing decisions (for good and bad). What prospective staff may not realize is that hiding may not work. While facebook may not alert you when someone “unfriend”s you, if you apply for a position, someone will likely go looking to see what you have been up to. Finding that you are not on the evaluator’s friend list anymore likely tells them all they need to know. (I’ve heard of this happening!)

If you work with high school youth, as I do, you see the students reacting to God’s work in their life, which is exciting, but you also see students that skip youth, and you see the decisions that they are making. You can add to the prayer list and praise list at the same time.

The moral of the story is that social networking sights can be a great aid to building community, connecting with friends, and many other things; but it can also be a source of unexpected, and often unwelcome, accountability. If you are not authentic, someone will find that out. Be careful what you post. If a friend posts pictures of you that you consider embarrassing, remove the tag of you, and message them that you don’t appreciate them posting pictures like that for all to see. Also, make a note to be careful about hanging out with them in the future. You may think a casual party with friends is a safe place to act stupid, realize that if someone has a camera, it may end up online, and your parents seeing it may be the least of your worries!

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