In my time at St. Ignatius, I have taught a few students for two years in a row and I've always felt that is a great privilege. Teaching junior ethics and then working with a good number of the same students during their senior year means that I know those kids fairly well. And I've seen and hear the great conflict that arises...good kids, really good kids KNOW the material. They agree with the principles in theory and yet they debate their efficacy, their practicality in the "real world" and the challenge they present.
For example, during her Spring Break, a former student returned to my class to deliver a presentation on "The Sexualization of Female Athletes." She pointed out that much more than a double standard exists between male and female athletes. Furthermore, they are seeking more than equal pay for equal work. Media attention is a place to start. (SportsCenter provides less than 4% of its airtime to women's sports). They want respect and a better understanding of what they do. Much of her presentation parallels the Nine for IX episode "Branded." ESPN writes:
The double standard placed on female athletes to be the best players on the field and the sexiest off of it. Through stories of the women who have faced and tackled this question in very different ways, "Branded" explores the question: can women's sports ever gain an equal footing with their male counterparts, or will sex appeal always override achievement?I was excited for my students to continue the conversations we once had in ethics through the lens of Sports and Spirituality on this topic. I believed the principles that framed our study would offer a fruitful dialogue. Instead, I left disappointed and disheartened. Truly, some of my most trusted male students were very close minded. They were resistant to the information. Rather than listen with humility or any sense of empathy, they became defensive and accusatory. I had seen this spirit in them before, it was back again.
I thought back to what they had learned one year prior. Byron writes:
The Principle of Human Equality."Equality of all persons comes from their essential dignity.... While differences in talents are a part of God’s plan, social and cultural discrimination in fundamental rights... are not compatible with God’s design" ("Summary," pp. 23-4).
Treating equals equally is one way of defining justice, also understood classically as rendering to each person his or her due. Underlying the notion of equality is the simple principle of fairness; one of the earliest ethical stirrings felt in the developing human person is a sense of what is "fair" and what is not.