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Sports culture suffered another blow in the past couple of weeks when high school quarterback standout, Mark Sanchez, now at the University of Southern California, was arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting a female student. This follows an NCAA investigation of whether the parents of Heisman Trophy winner, Reggie Bush, also of USC, gained some questionable housing advantage from a businessman supporter of the team. And this follows national attention focused on allegations of assault and rape against some members of the Duke University Lacrosse team.

Athletics at the intercollegiate and professional levels are microcosms of society. There are good people and not so good people who play sports. It’s not too surprising, therefore, to think that “bad things happen” from time to time. So the fact that these kinds of incidents occurred is nothing new in American sports, but then again the intensity and frequency of such incidents seems to be increasing

Negative fan behavior, near-violent parents, cheating prima donna athletes, belligerent coaches, and dishonest officials are all now a part of the American sports scene.

So how do we move sports culture back toward achievement and sportsmanship? It’s a complicated issue, one that’s rooted in the moral fabric or lack of it in culture at large, in elementary and secondary schools, and in the home.

There aren’t enough rules or honest officials to keep athletes from misbehaving on and especially off the court or field. It all goes back to each person’s moral code.

This is one reason I’m a fan of the NAIA’s “Champions of Character” program. In this intercollegiate organization of some 300 schools nationally, the focus is on winning and on character: Respect, Responsibility, Integrity, Sportsmanship, and Servant Leadership.

Cornerstone University has experienced problems, sometimes serious problems, with student athletes. But the university draws lines of acceptable behavior for student athletes and coaches and, when necessary, holds accountable those who cross the line. Sports in this context is part of life, not isolated from it. A student or a coach wins when he or she is at their best as athletes and as people. Demanding that athletes behave properly is even more important than demanding that they perform their sport well.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

Plagiarism has long been the bane of college professors. Under the pressure (generally self-imposed by procrastination) of approaching deadlines, college students too frequently “write” term papers by “borrowing” from myriad sources—whether intentionally or unintentionally is sometimes difficult to discern. And in today’s Internet environment, the sky’s the limit in finding usable content. Either way, the student has taken another author’s material and called it their own. Plagiarism is a fancy term for theft of intellectual property.

Not long ago we were treated to the spectacle of James Frey’s fall from grace on the Oprah Winfrey Show when he acknowledged that some—maybe a lot—of his supposed memoir was actually fiction.

Now we’re at it again. Harvard University sophomore Kaavya Viswanathan has been caught red handed. She’s now admitted that much of her novel (for which she was given a six figure advance), How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life, was lifted from Megan McCafferty’s books, an author Viswanathan read (a long time ago?) as a high school student. Little, Brown and Co, Viswanathan’s publisher, has pulled her book from stores and is feverishly attempting to revise it as fast as possible—in the pursuit of truth or to take advantage of the “negative” publicity that will ultimately sell more books for Viswanathan as it did for Frey?

Truth will never go out of style, but at times it does seem like an endangered species. At least we can be grateful there’s enough “borrowed Christian values” (as the late Francis A. Schaeffer called them) left in our culture that people still yearn for something real, for integrity.

So, whether for principle or for profit, here’s to those who recognize that honesty is still the best policy. Ms. Viswanathan is very young. Hopefully she’s learned to apply her own talents, not make money via another person’s pen.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at


“The Star Spangled Banner” is now available in a Spanish-language version. This development has incited a barrage of negative conservative reaction, along with positive response from many in the Hispanic community as well as others who think such a version is overdue.

I don’t know anything about the musical quality of the piece, nor am I a Spanish-speaking person. I am, though, generally considered a conservative and in that role I can’t quite get my arms around why other conservatives are making this a new front in the culture wars. Their reactions sound more parochial than patriotic.

It does not bother me to think that Spanish speaking Americans can learn the words of the National Anthem in their original language or that they may sing it from time to time in their native tongue.

On the other hand, I agree with those who reject planned inclusion of “pro-immigrant” political statements in a future remix version of the song. Such posturing is more about disunity than unity and has no place in a long established patriotic anthem.

And, while it does not bother me that a Spanish-language version of “The Star Spangled Banner” exists, I do not think public expressions of the National Anthem at ball games, special ceremonies, military events, etc. should be conducted in anything but English. The United States is an English speaking country, and should not be ashamed or apologetic about it. This is a fact important to our history, our economic well-being, and our melting pot culture.

We may be a “Nation of Immigrants,” but in the end, the U.S. is and must be a “Nation.” English is a key component of this unified nation state, and the National Anthem is an artistic and emotional expression of the ideals we hold dear as a people, not “peoples.” Offering an Anthem Du Jour is not a recipe for strength and stability. Affirming an English language National Anthem is not a rejection of English as a second language Americans. Actually, it’s just the opposite.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

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The so-called "immigrant problem," or what has now become the immigrant rights movement, is producing disagreement among religious conservatives and leaders. Some, like Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, are arguing for stiff penalties against illegal immigrants along with beefed up efforts to secure U.S. borders. Many Catholic leaders have argued for citizenship grants and “justice,” some white evangelicals have weighed in via surveys saying immigrants are a burden and a threat to American values and stability, Hispanic evangelicals are noting their support for pro-life, pro-marriage, and other issues dear to evangelicals and, thus, expecting some reciprocity. Still others like Focus on the Family have uncharacteristically stayed out of the fray.

I would qualify as a “religious conservative,” and I’m already on record as generally supportive of immigrants’ desire for American citizenship. I do not consider immigrants a threat to American values and way of life.

But clearly the current situation needs to change. While both Republicans and Democrats posture on Capitol Hill, offering quick “solutions,” the current immigrant issue remains a complex one. We did not awaken one morning and discover that as many as 12 million illegal immigrants entered the country over night. Porous borders, ineffective policy, and sporadic enforcement have co-existed for a long time.

I don’t understand evangelicals who make illegal immigrants sound like terrorists. It’s not too much of a stretch to surmise that a handful of illegal immigrants are connected with terrorist cells, but certainly not 12 million of them. Categorical rejection of these people borders on ethnic prejudice and parochialism. I don’t consider these attitudes Christian.

This issue calls for statesmanship, rationality, and measured response. Immigration is nothing new. We are a nation of immigrants, and we’ve developed reasonable legal processes before. We can do it again.

At a minimum, Congress needs to do the following:

--Recognize that the vast majority of immigrants do not want to come to the United States to blow it up. They want to come to secure the prospects of a better life for them and their children via the freedom this country and economy affords.

--Secure American borders from those who wish to do us harm. This means we must develop a more sophisticated, coordinated, and administered system of accepting or rejecting internationals who wish to enter this country.

--Develop a guest worker program that makes sense and is easy to administer.

--Create a process through which illegal immigrants presently in this country can work systematically toward American citizenship.

--Develop a better and more extensive approach to teaching English as a second language and require immigrants seeking American citizenship to enroll, learn, and pass conversational English tests.

The recently named “immigrants rights movement” needs to demonstrate some leadership and established values as well:

--They need to more clearly and consistently convey their desire to become Americans, not simply legally recognized residents of the United States. There is a difference. Americans buy in to the ideals this country represents, speak English, and evidence gratitude for the blessings this citizenship affords. Legally recognized residents seem to work harder to maintain their distinctive heritage than they do to assimilate.

--Assimilation is not a bad thing, and it does not mean a person must reject his or her heritage. It means that the person who wants to become a citizen of this country works to develop basic knowledge and skills that allow him or her to function productively in this free country.

I am not anti-Hispanic or anti-Spanish language. Far from it. I’m simply saying that when I travel to the Dominican Republic and certainly to France, I am expected to at least try to speak their language—and I’m just a tourist. Surely if I took up residence in those countries and sought Dominican or French citizenship, I would be expected to learn the language of my adopted country,

Expecting immigrants to learn English is not a form of cultural imperialism. It’s a practical economic and social necessity. Those who do not learn English are forever hindered in their ability to better their condition and support themselves. Those who learn the language of their adopted country can then fully participate in the freedom of opportunity this capitalistic system offers. They can earn and they can contribute.

So, as a religious conservative and as a white evangelical, I do not reject illegal immigrants carte blanche. I do not think that as a category they are a threat to what makes America great. I think they are an asset who should be assisted, treated with dignity and respect, and then given certain incentives or expectations for attaining citizenship. If they do not respond to these overtures, then they can be sent back to their country of origin. But if that happens, it will result from their choices, not our walled off rejection.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

I written before that I believe one of President George W. Bush’s greatest liabilities is his under developed communication skills. He may possess the right values on many issues, or at least in terms of his desire to do right and do well by the American people and his office. But he just can’t sell his ideas, much less defend his actions.

I believe his second greatest liability as a leader is his seeming unwillingness to admit it when he makes a mistake. While at times he may be admirably resolute, as many more times he is questionably inflexible. He’s not simply confident but possibly stubborn and loyal to a fault. What else can possibly explain the President’s expression of “full support” once again this week for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld? Whatever your politics on the War in Iraq, you have to recognize by now that if President Bush is known for doggedly staying his course, Rumsfeld is a major leaguer in this category.

Rumsfeld’s leadership style is arrogant, imperial, condescending if not demeaning, argumentative, and bellicose. Americans who have watched him the past several years can see this and six retired generals weighed in this week with comparable observations. Why can’t President Bush see it? Or admit it? And if he does know it, as his advisors say that he does, and as I must believe that he does, than why does he persist in his support for a man who has come to embody much of what’s gone wrong with Iraq? Unless President Bush can’t own a mistake or make a course correction.

Six retired generals do not a conclusion make. But surely their comments this week must make us think. These are men taught from their teens to say, “Yes sir,” or “No sir.” The stars on their shoulders attest to their ability to follow and execute orders. These are not rabble rousers, uninformed blokes in a bar, academic liberals, or the front lines of a loyal opposition in another political party. These are military men speaking to military issues, and to a man they question the nature and quality of leadership directing America’s commitment in Iraq.

I’m not suggesting the United States should simply pull out of Iraq. For good rationale or maybe not so good rationale, we’re there, and we must see this through to some kind of stability. But I wonder if Rumsfeld can get us there.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

Very few articles I have read about an alleged rape possibly involving members of the Duke University Lacrosse team have mentioned the words “right” or “wrong,” “character,” or “morality.” Instead, we’re being treated to a steady diet of references to race, class, patterns of masculine power over women, wealth, and entitlement. Perhaps any or all of these variables are involved in this case, but one thing is certain, character, or the lack of it, is certainly involved.

When young men act out excessive macho scenarios they are demonstrating the immaturity of their character. When coaches wink at exceptional athletes’ moral misadventures it’s a matter of weak character. When student athletes hammer themselves into drunken oblivion it’s about misguided character. When women willingly participate in paid erotic dancing they evidence cracks in their character. When women and men place themselves in sexually charged situations it’s all about limited character.

If a student athlete’s character is well grounded and well established, he or she will not participate in ethically, morally, or legally questionable activities. Wholesome character considers race, class, and wealth simply interesting variations in the human universe, not sources of ego, intolerance, or bigotry. Individuals with mature moral character will not harm others of the opposite sex, nor will they look at life through the lens of entitlement. People with character just don’t act that way, and they don’t require more laws, police officers, campus speech or behavior codes, or sensitivity training to know how to live above reproach.

Character matters. We learned that watching the O.J. Simpson trial, when we learned about President Clinton and “that woman,” when we heard about Kobe Bryant’s Colorado “consensual sex,” when we grieved at what happened at Abu Grhaib, and when we discovered a few businessmen’s greed could hurt the pension plans of hundreds of thousands of people and put thousands of others out of work. Recovering a respect for character in all parts of our culture is, today, a near crisis need.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at