During a discussion on the woes of Tiger, John Edwards, A-Rod, and Eliot Spitzer, a friend pointed out that, “One of the reasons these guys hit the wall as adults is that they’ve been surrounded by ‘fixers’ their entire lives. A high profile athlete or a well-connected student, he’s always got someone there, someone to fix things when there are problems.”
His comment reminded me of a scene from my checkered past, one I’m not terribly proud of. I was a young teacher, new to a school, and the week before the first marking period grades were due, the Dean of Students stopped by to see me to check in on the progress of a particularly gifted athlete. (The Dean also happened to be the coach of this boy’s team.) The boy was doing poorly in my English class, so poorly in fact, that he was in danger of being removed from the team because of his academic status.
It’s been over two decades since that conversation, and while I can’t recall the details, I do remember the dean/coach asking me for “understanding” and “compassion.” I also remember that, when grades were posted a week later, my student/his player was still on the team.
Twenty years after the deed was done, I wonder if it was compassion or cowardice at work in my grade book. And I wonder, too, if I was just another “fixer.”