Years ago, I belonged to my employer’s golf league (a New York public school). I sucked at golf, but I enjoyed the camaraderie, chops busting, and commune with nature. I also enjoyed sharing a few brews with my pals afterwards. The league was made up of several two man teams. My teammate’s name was John, a high school teacher. Prior to one season, John called me on the phone…
“Greg, this is John, and I am sure that you are aware that I have been suspended from teaching because I allegedly fondled a high school female. Even though I have been suspended, I still wish to participate in the golf league, and I wonder if you feel comfortable still being my teammate.”
What sounded like a breezy response that required little thought was anything but. The truth of the matter was that John already had a reputation for having ‘happy hands’ with high school girls, and EVERYONE assumed he was guilty in this case as well. Eventually, after a series of hearings, John was permanently dismissed as a teacher.
After the first week of that year’s golf league, I had a clear understanding of how things would play out. John was ignored or mistreated, and I, as his partner, was mistreated as well. Many times, an entire round of golf was played with NO conversation exchanged between teams. And the after match bar session? Several stools were left open between us and the next group.
One opposing team went as far as arriving to the golf course early on the week they were to play us, playing their round without us, and then rushing off to the bar.
Because of the way I operate, I hunkered down with John and became protective of him. He may have done something awful, but I could not stand what was being done to him, or to me.
At the end of the season, I decided that I was done with the league. I told John, but I assured him it had nothing to do with him- it had everything to do with the character of our opponents.
And I not only quit the golf league, I quit golf entirely. To be honest, golf is very much a ‘good ole boy’ network, and the cool guys, the guys who were high school athletic stars, receive the best treatment.
And I definitely was not anybody’s idea of a good ole boy.
I found out recently that Rich, another guy I worked with who I see at the YMCA several times a week, takes the now elderly John to lunch once a week. And when Rich told me this, I went on a five minute tribute to his good character. How many people would have given this guy the time of day?
Long deceased Supreme Court Justice William Brennan repeatedly stated that every person possessed human dignity, from murderers to rapists to child molesters. And he practiced what he preached in his court votes and opinions. And that is not an easy code to live by, especially when children are involved. And Brennan was often crucified for his beliefs.
But when you think about it, it just might be the right thing.