Fair play

The news flash:

Another shooting at a US high school. This time, a suburb of San Diego.

It cuts the heart.

No matter the location, schoolyard rampages are too troubling for distance to make them far away.

Like many, I have thought long and hard about what makes a young man, a boy really, do such a thing. I have no coherent answer. I do have an inkling. One thing I know that needs to be dealt with is fairness, or more precisely, an overwhelming feeling in the troubled minds of these adolescents that life has been patently unfair. I believe a blinding sense of injustice is a major reason they do such desperate deeds.

I taught high school English for eight years. They were almost always happy times. The worst day, though, was when my student aide committed suicide with a high-powered rifle. No one saw it coming. The day he ended his life, before he went home, he turned in papers that he had graded for me.

Small and slight of build, he competed on the wrestling team with boys in his own weight class. He had a chance to win, and he had teammates. But he had been suspended from competition for drinking.

The confused tape recording he left behind made much of how unfair he thought it was to take this away from him. Of course, there was much more going on inside that we will never know.

I have never looked at sports the same again. There's something in all of us, especially the young, that wants a level playing field. Sports can provide this field.

Sure, it's only part of the answer. But it's something we can provide in every school for every student.

Comments or questions? Send e-mail to: Ideas@csps.com.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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