When Running from the Rules is a Bad Idea


We all love stories of inspiration. Despite the bad news we see every day, there is at least one story of amazing resourcefulness on just about any morning television show. Bev Kearney, coach at the University of Texas, was a great inspiration to many. She isn’t anymore.

Apparently, she suffered a horrific car crash that left her paralyzed and unable to walk. She later made it into the Hall of Fame. And, due to an inappropriate affair with a former student, she is being asked to leave the school.

The salacious details (of which there are none in the linked article) don’t interest me. What interests me is the lengths we will go to in order to protect the sins or mistakes of those we love. Kearney was a great coach, and a strong person to have survived and then thrived after her troubles. Some would say she deserves to catch a break for this one. And it’s easy to see why.

Why is it that we make excuses or flat-out deny the wrongdoings of those we love? I think it’s because there are some things that only we know; these are the things that we have done, said, or thought about, and no one else in the whole words knows about it. We feel shame and guilt over these things, and so when someone we love or admire does something awful, we tend to shift the blame and responsibility off that person.

Kearney shouldn’t be given a free pass because she caught some tough breaks. In fact, the tough breaks should have made her even more thankful for what she had before she ruined it with someone she’s not even with anymore. But that isn’t how we work, is it? Whether it’s our spouse, our parent, our friend, or our kid, we tend to excuse, at least publicly, the foibles of others.

What is the harm in that? Well, we learn just about everything outside the classroom by example. I applaud the university for publicly stating and recognizing how wonderful a coach she was, because this mistake does not entirely define her or her career. But it does define who she is, in part, and it definitely defines how the school handles those who break the rules.

And before you go sympathizing too much with her, because it would be easy, let’s all think back to revered coach Paterno. His tendency to overlook sins created problems that generations of families will have to deal with.

What is the right way to handle a situation in which someone we love has made a terrible mistake? Well, who says we can’t treat that person with the same love we always have? Even if we were hurt by what the person said or did, eventually that passes, and we tend to forgive. That is exactly what we should do. But how do we cope with the immediate problem, which is handling what was said or done the way God would want us to? The answer isn’t anything that will make you jump out of your chair in surprise as you read this. You already know. Stop making excuses for the people in your life who do the wrong thing and either don’t take accountability for it, or don’t take responsibility for it with you.

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