Ryan Lochte, Orion and the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate

Those who still care about the Olympics have heard ad nauseam about Mr. Ryan Lochte and three other US Olympic swimmers who got drunk, urinated on a gas station wall, was challenged by police and then claimed to have been victimized by armed robbers. When finally caught out in his exaggeration or what used to be known as a lie, the 32-year old Mr. Lochte apologized for his immaturity.

We can assume from his immaturity that Mr. Lochte did not attend a religious school. If he had done so, he might have read the Old Testament warnings against those that “pissith against the wall” but only if he had been exposed to the King James Version or the Rheims Douay. He may also have learned about Orion, the ancient Greek mythological hunter, especially since urine is one remote etymology of Orion. Mr. Lochte could now become Orion, the modern hunter of gas station restrooms.

After the sniggering dies down about Mr. Lochte’s inability to hold his liquor, all we are left with is another winning athlete busted for anti-social behavior with a trite apology on his lips. Let’s remember what Mr. Lochte actually did. As a United States Olympic athlete, he was invited to a foreign country where he embarrassed himself and us. Not because he lost, but because he won. He urinated on his hosts even though he was the victor.

No gentlemen he. Nor is he a positive example for our children to admire despite his athletic skills. Though his $25,000 bonus and his sponsorship opportunities are being threatened, I suspect his immaturity will be quickly forgotten. For the rest of us, Mr. Lochte presents a problem for those who wish to teach children self-respect and proper manners toward others.

The General Assembly passed Act 195 earlier this year defining the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate. Within the Life and Career Characteristics section several ideals were listed that our students should be taught or as the actual wording in the bill says “Students finally also must be offered reasonable exposure, examples, and information on the state’s vision of life and career characteristics such as: Integrity, Self Direction, Global Perspective, Perseverance, Work Ethic, and Interpersonal Skills.”

The Act does not expressly say that negative examples may be used but Mr. Lochte expressly presents poor examples of Integrity, Interpersonal Skills and Global Perspective. Only the gas station wall can attest to his Self Direction.

As I read through the Graduate Profile prior to passage, I thought about one important ideal that was omitted – the notion of honor – not just showing honor to another person but the development of an honor code for oneself. A personal code of how you will behave and what behavior you will tolerate from others. Maybe Interpersonal Skills have taken the place of an honor code. Interpersonal Skills suggest acceptance while an honor code suggests mere tolerance. Our society often confuses the two.

Over the next few weeks, I intend to write a short series on our state’s “honor culture” and how the notion of personal honor and honor codes should be revived in our education system. In the interim, one warning remains whether our graduates learn personal honor or interpersonal skills, if they urinate on their employer’s office wall, they will be terminated.

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Tommy Stringer