High school students weigh in on Derek Jeter
Reaction is still coming in on this Derek Jeter incident from last week. You know, the play where he acted as if he had been hit by a pitch even though replays showed (and he later admitted) that the ball hit the bat. It's not surprising, really, that there continues to be a buzz about it. For starters, it's Derek Jeter, arguably the most famous sports personality in the country. In addition, you don't need to know about sports or baseball to have an opinion because, for many, it's a question of morals. We've heard baseball people talk about the play, as well as media across the country and long-time fans of the sport. But what do young people think?
Bob Bradshaw is an old friend -- the two of us used to cover high school football back in the 1980s for the old St. Petersburg Evening Independent. These days, Bob teaches U.S. history Tampa Prep and he asked his students to offer up their opinions on the Jeter play. Here are some the responses from high school juniors. Interesting takes, all of them, especially from those around the age of 16.
Derek Jeter is a cheater. It's plain and simple. Faking a beaning to walk is not very honest and fair. However, doesn't Cristiano Ronaldo dramatize his dives on the soccer field or the Phillies when they steal signs? Or don't forget old pitchers with their spitballs. All these players have one thing in common: they're well-known cheaters. Despite the fact, these players still maintain a level of respect from their fans. I don't think that Jeter should be seen as some horrible guy. He did something that isn't seen as just in order to help his team. Fair players get awarded with high-fives. Cheaters just get the medal. They don't get the benefit of being admired from people that believe in high morals such as parents and teachers, but get condoned. Cheating is an everyday affair. If you really think about it, everyone cheats at least once in their life, whether is is athletically, academically, in terms of matrimony, not sticking to one's diet, etc. This is Major League Baseball; Jeter's job is to win. If anything blame Lance Barksdale (the umpire) for believing him. Don't hate the player, hate the game.
The short answer to whether Derek Jeter cheated is he did. The rules of the game indicate that you are awarded first base if hit by the ball. Derek Jeter was not hit by the ball and was awarded first base by feigning injury by pretending the ball hit his hand. His action was a lie, period. All explanations to the contrary are lip service. These explanations try to justify the act, not criticize it on the merits. It just shows that high-paid athletes are not role models, but only think in terms of what is in their best interest. In our society, winning is everything. By hook or by crook, from a very young age, student-athletes are pushed to win at any cost. Honesty, integrity and playing by the rules only inhibit one's performance and rise to prominence. It doesn't take long to realize that if you are honest, have integrity and play by the rules that you are at a serious disadvantage to your peers around you who don't. This attitude is followed into the business world where to justify unscrupulous behavior, the phrase, "it's business, not personal'' is used. However, there is always hope. In early September 2010, Zach Nash, age 14, won the junior Wisconsin PGA tournament. When he discovered he had too many clubs in his bag, he disqualified himself and lost the title. Zach Nash did it right and most people never heard of him. Most people do not realize that Derek Jeter's actions betray a much deeper problem in our society which, if not corrected, will eventually lead to our downfall.
Viktor M. Pavlidakey
Derek Jeter is not a cheater. He simply did something that all baseball players do and, sadly, he got caught. Do you really think it would have been such a big deal if it had been a rookie nobody had ever heard of? No. Catchers frame pitches all the time and nobody ever gets in trouble for that. All he did was not tell the umpire he made a mistake. He didn't cheat.
Derek Jeter is not a cheater! He took his free base and that should be the end of it. As a baseball player, your main goal is to reach base safely. Not being an easy task, one must take every advantage they can get. By acting like the ball hit his wrist was nothing more than good instincts, in my opinion. However, I do not agree with the "acting job'' done by Jeter. Even after the umpires allowed him his base, he continued to act like the ball hurt him. Clearly, the ball did not hit Jeter, but in the end, it was the best thing he could have done for his team because the next batter hit a two-run homer to give the Yankees a lead.
I disagree with what Derek Jeter did. I believe that any person should tell the truth, whether they are a famous athlete or not. The fact that Derek Jeter lied makes me question is moral and ethical values. If he lies about one thing, he may lie about another. I think the press took this issue out of control, making it bigger of a deal than it should have been because it wasn't just Jeter's fault, but also the umpires. Maybe Jeter was felling really anxious and that was his first reaction, to play it up, so I feel that we are taking this to a certain extreme when it wasn't too big of a deal. He even admitted that he lied, which takes a very strong person to do, especially in front of millions of viewers.
First of all, I want to admit that I am a huge Yankees fan. My initial reaction, based on my emotions, was thank God for Derek Jeter and that the play was not that big of a deal. In retrospect, I now realize my initial reaction was based on the emotion. Now stepping back, I believe you have to take the emotion out of your subjective opinion. In reading the commentaries by a variety of baseball people, they all believe that Derek Jeter "acted'' in a professional manner. The emotional response from what I would consider as Rays fans was just that -- and emotional response. In judging whether Derek Jeter cheated, which I consider a very serious accusation, would mean there was some sense of premeditation. Jeter did his job, just as many other players in baseball do their job when trapping a catch in the outfield, framing a pitching to the inside/outside corner, stealing a base when you know you were tagged otu. All of these things lead me to believe that the action that Jeter took was not cheating. Now once again, you may emotionally judge Jeter because the trainer came out to check his arm (keep in mind Derek did not ask for him to come out), but he went along with it in a brief manner. All of these judgments represent emotional reactions versus the true fact that Derek Jeter did what he had to do to get on base. Thankfully, the Rays came back and won the game, or the Rays fans might not have let him out of the stadium alive.