- The Washington Times - Monday, August 7, 2006

Jocks gone wild

“If sports are supposed to build character, recent evidence suggests that college athletics is falling down on the job. Consider this summer, during which at least 25 college athletes have made headlines for various off-field violations…. Sharon K. Stoll believes she knows why — and she has developed a plan to tackle the problem.

“Ms. Stoll, a professor of physical education at the University of Idaho and the director of its Center for Ethical Theory and Honor in Competition and Sport, has been studying morality in sports since the 1980s. During the past two decades, she has measured the moral-reasoning abilities of more than 70,000 college athletes. … [On] the whole, athletes have significantly lower moral-reasoning skills than the general student population. …

“Team-sport athletes perform worse than any others, with lacrosse players scoring the lowest, followed by ice hockey and football players. Players of individual sports like golf and tennis fare better — but still lower than nonathletes. And although female athletes score higher than men, their moral-reasoning abilities have also dropped; Ms. Stoll believes they could fall as low as men’s scores within five years.”

—Brad Wolverton in “Morality Play” in the Aug. 4 Chronicle of Higher Education

Vive la difference

“That boys and girls — and men and women — are programmed by evolution to behave differently from one another is now widely accepted. … But which of the differences between the sexes are ‘biological,’ in the sense that they have been honed by evolution, and which are ‘cultural’ or ‘environmental’ and might more easily be altered by changed circumstances, is still fiercely debated.

“The sensitivity of the question was shown last year by a furor at Harvard University. Larry Summers, then Harvard’s president, caused a storm when he suggested that innate ability could be an important reason why there were so few women in the top positions in mathematics, engineering and the physical sciences.

“Even as a proposition for discussion, this is unacceptable to some. But biological explanations of human behaviour are making a comeback as the generation of academics that feared them … is retiring. The success of neo-Darwinism has provided an intellectual underpinning for discussion about why some differences between the sexes might be innate. And new scanning techniques have enabled researchers to examine the brain’s interior while it is working, showing that male and female brains do, at one level, operate differently.”

—From “The mismeasure of woman,” in the Aug. 3 issue of the Economist

‘Disservice’

“When word got out that Oliver Stone was making a movie about September 11, many feared we were in for another iteration of his [1991] conspiracy-minded ‘JFK.’ Those fears were unfounded. …

“The movie [‘World Trade Center’] … has been almost universally praised as patriotic, pro-American, pro-family. …

“But … there are no villains in Mr. Stone’s movie. …

“The mass murderers who planned and supported the killing of thousands on that day still wish us ill. As long as that is true and they retain the capacity to attempt similar atrocities in the future, it remains a fact about that day that we cannot afford to forget. To the extent that ‘World Trade Center’ encourages us to forget it, it does a disservice to its viewers.”

—Brian M. Carney, writing on “None Dare Call It Conspiracy,” Sunday in Opinion Journal at www.opinionjournal.com


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