Friday, February 29, 2008

Players' Responsibility: Who Owns It?

The Red Sox accepted a Presidential invitation to meet President Bush and tour the White House and visited Washington Wednesday. After spending time at the White House, the team also visited wounded service personnel at Walter Reed Army Hospital. Several members of the team and management weren't present, and Sports Radio vilified them today.

If I ever got invited to the White House (actually I did interview for a position there once), I'd certainly go, provided no medical or family emergency prevented it. As for Walter Reed, I spent two months during my Pulmonary/Critical Care fellowship there, and it's quite an intriguing place. The Army has a very robust and sophisticated relationship between its medical department and troops...a difficult task for doctors, who tend to have an independent streak. Walter Reed hasn't gotten such good publicity lately, but during my remote and peacetime duty there, I considered it a very special place.

We know that a few individuals didn't attend, but we don't know why. Do we need to know? As far as I know, nobody was making a political statement, and I can't pretend to know the obligations of more than a few people with whom I am close.

Stephen Covey did an interview once where he talked about a fellow on a train with several poorly supervised, loud, and difficult young children. A passenger on the train upbraided the father for his lack of oversight. To which the father replied that he hadn't been able to control the children very well since their mother died recently. Needless to say, the critical fellow traveler was embarrassed at his lack of knowledge of the context.

When I can I listen to sports radio. But I do try to distinguish the difference between content and context. Radio personalities get paid to apply labels and frequently (and by choice) live in the harsh world of black and white. Player A doesn't go to the White House and doesn't support injured soldiers. What a heel! Maybe so, but what if the player had a sick or needy relative or friend, or just another conflict? Are the humanitarians of the Morning Show without fault or am I just imagining things?

Suffice it to say, I guess it wasn't my turn to watch the Red Sox players today, or judge them either. Tomorrow is another day.

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