Urban Meyer is a coach for young student-athletes whose minds are impressionable and who look up to him and his staff with the utmost of respect. Think about that, Urban Meyer coaches and leads young minds. Take a second to realize how synonymous the two words “coach” and “leader” are; they are both people who set an example, guide and direct their followers, they set goals for other people, they inspire and motivate those who depend on them for it. Urban Meyer was supposed to be that person for over 100 young athletes who make up the Ohio State University football program right now. Urban Meyer promised these young people and their parents that OSU was the right choice for them to send their talents and their children to best fulfill their purpose and goals. Urban Meyer failed these players and their parents and he failed Courtney Smith. But who are the people he apologized to? Not his players, not their parents, not Courtney Smith.
The platform that Urban Meyer has been given is monumental, his face and his voice are being played on cell phones, televisions, and computer screens all across the nation. This was Urban Meyer’s chance to right his wrong, he made the mistake in the past to neglect Courtney Smith and to neglect the morals and values that his players needed him to exemplify. He let them down again by failing to acknowledge that what Zach Smith did was inexcusable, that Courtney Smith deserved more than what she was given, and that he does not condone domestic violence or abuse of any sort towards women. Meyer could have made a statement advocating for survivors of domestic violence. That survivors can and should come forward and that those who are able to do so should be celebrated, not silenced and pushed aside the way that Courtney Smith was. Survivors deserved more than what Urban Meyer gave them, Courtney Smith deserved more.
The party behind Courtney Smith who also deserved more is the Ohio State University football team. The athletes who have given their all to Urban Meyer for the past 1-4 years and who had trusted him with every ounce of their being. They deserved to be acknowledged in all of this, they deserved an apology from their coach. Their coach hired and allowed someone who was beating another human being to instruct and guide them, to teach them dedication and commitment to the sport who, for some of them, may saved them from a lesser path in life. He condoned a person who did not respect human life to instill values and trust in the next generation of athletes and leaders. They deserved more, the next generation deserved more.
“These difficult lessons are a constant reminder of the duties and obligations that I have as a member of this university and this community,” –Urban Meyer. This should be a constant reminder to all athletic coaches that they are leaders. They set the example for a lot of these young student-athletes, some of whom do not have any other guidance or support outside of their athletic coaches. This needs to be a lesson for the sports industry to hold our coaches to the highest of standards, we NEED to hold our coaches to the highest standards that we have. It is a responsibility that the sports industry holds on their backs to lift young people up and to hold them there, to keep them above ground and to show them what type of leaders deserve to be held that high. The sports industry is more than an entertainment industry, it is a platform that instills values, morals, and guidance to young athletes and potential leaders across the nation who need it now more than ever.
-Mady Ruppert, Brand Strategy Intern