Skip to main content

Tabor College, my alma mater, ends up in Sports Illustrated for all the wrong reasons

Well, I'd love to hear from some of my Tabor friends about this, but the story SI describes doesn't seem terribly different from what things were like when I was a student at Tabor 20 years ago, at least in my mind.

I even did a little research into WHY Tabor had a football team when I was there, digging through old stacks of the student newspaper. If memory serves, the team didn't exist until 1969. It started (and an existing soccer team shut down) more or less in order to stay in the KCAC—the worry being that the college wouldn't survive unless it maintained its membership in the athletic conference.

The football team seemed to exist in a different universe than the rest of Tabor, which was no lip-service denominational college: It really did (and does) take seriously the mission of Christ-centered learning. The student body was pretty white and devout. The football team …much, much less so. Every year or so, there'd be one or two players who really participated in church-related events on campus in a major way, and they drew a lot of attention, but often they were gone the next year, just like most of the rest of the team.

So the team didn't seem to square, even then, with either Tabor's spiritual or educational missions. I recall, in fact, my senior year of college putting the question directly to David Brandt, then Tabor's brand-new president. Why did Tabor persist in keeping a program that seemed to fit the campus so badly?

I don't recall his answer, in fairness: I do recall he answered it with a kind of smiling frustration reserved for the "you don't get how the world works, son," and I guess I did and didn't.

I'm disappointed that the current president, Jules Glanzer, elected to try to avoid attention by declining to speak about this with SI's reporter. In fairness: I'm no longer an ideal Tabor alum myself, being an agnostic liberal. And the story of who benefits and who loses from the existence of the football team at Tabor is complicated by hundreds of individual stories.

But I also suspect that the conflict between how Tabor presents itself, how it thinks of itself, and the different reality lived by much of the football team—well, public embarrassment of some sort was going to come at some point. I'm sorry that it took the death of a young man, a father, to heighten those contradictions. I hope, however, that Tabor will wrestle with the questions posed in this story with honesty, integrity, and fidelity to the faith it proclaims in the world.

Update: Final thought: It was clear 20 years ago that Tabor might not live without football, but would live in a compromised state *with* football. It seems like little has changed. I'm more clear-eyed than I was when I was a self-righteous 20-year-old about the need for and nature of compromise, but I still wonder if it's all ultimately to the good.


Popular posts from this blog


I've been making some life changes lately — trying to use the time I have, now that I'm back in Kansas, to improve my health and lifestyle. Among the changes: More exercise. 30 minutes a day on the treadmill. Doesn't sound like a lot, but some is more than none, and I know from experience that getting overambitious early leads to failure. So. Thirty minutes a day.

One other thing: Yoga, a couple of times a week. It's nothing huge — a 15-minute flexibility routine downloaded from an iPhone app. But I've noticed that I'm increasingly limber.

Tonight, friends, I noticed a piece of trash on the floor. I bent over at the waist and picked it up, and threw it away.

Then I wept. I literally could not remember the last time I'd tried to pick something off the floor without grunting and bracing myself. I just did it.

Small victories, people. Small victories.

Liberals: We're overthinking this. Hillary didn't lose. This is what it should mean.

Nate Cohn of the New York Times estimates that when every vote is tallied, some 63.4 million Americans will have voted for Clinton and 61.2 million for Trump. That means Clinton will have turned out more supporters than any presidential candidate in history except for Obama in 2008 and 2012. And as David Wasserman of Cook Political Report notes, the total vote count—including third party votes—has already crossed 127 million, and will “easily beat” the 129 million total from 2012. The idea that voters stayed home in 2016 because they hated Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is a myth. We already know the Electoral College can produce undemocratic results, but what we don't know is why — aside from how it serves entrenched interests — it benefits the American people to have their preference for national executive overturned because of archaic rules designed, in part, to protect the institution of slavery. 

A form of choosing the national leader that — as has happened in …

I'm not cutting off my pro-Trump friends

Here and there on Facebook, I've seen a few of my friends declare they no longer wish the friendship of Trump supporters — and vowing to cut them out of their social media lives entirely.

I'm not going to do that.

To cut ourselves off from people who have made what we think was a grievous error in their vote is to give up on persuading them, to give up on understanding why they voted, to give up on understanding them in any but the most cartoonish stereotypes.

As a matter of idealism, cutting off your pro-Trump friends is to give up on democracy. As a matter of tactics, cutting off your pro-Trump friends is to give up on ever again winning in a democratic process.

And as a long-term issues, confining ourselves to echo chambers is part of our national problem.

Don't get me wrong: I expect a Trumpian presidency is a disaster, particularly for people of color. And in total honesty: My own relationships have been tested by this campaign season. There's probably some damage…