Response to Westbrook appeal is a reminder to maintain perspective

Before technology and instant information available at all times, we relied a lot on older people for knowledge. We put stock in what our parents, relatives, teachers and mentors told us, because we knew they were older and and had more wisdom than we did.

Today we are all bombarded with information every hour of the day. Social media throws videos and stories in front of our faces, and delving into any topic is just a Google search away. As a result, today’s youth are much more information-savvy than previous generations. They question rules, they know their rights, and they don’t necessarily think their elders are older and wiser.

Alongside that, it is common today for parents to side with their children over teachers, coaches and other authority figures. Previously, a call home from one of these entities – which would sometimes include neighbors that functioned like extended family – would result in discipline for the child. Now a parent is more than likely to take their child’s side over another adult.

A few years ago I wrote up a student for cussing me out in class. The parent said to me, “what did you do to make her cuss you out?” I wish I could say that is the only such scenario I have experienced, but that is far from the case. Educators are blamed when a child earns a poor grade, when they are forced to adhere to rules, and much more. It is absurd.

The same kind of strangeness popped up this month when the NCAA denied Tennessee transfer Evina Westbrook’s waiver to play this season at UConn. After the NCAA denied the school’s appeal of the decision this week, Husky coach Geno Auriemma blasted the Lady Vol program as “an environment you wouldn’t want your kid in.”

What a disappointing response from the 65-year-old Auriemma. The NCAA made a decision, and he chose to criticize the school where Westbrook came from instead of the decision-makers. Auriemma’s response also indicates he’s decided to believe everything that Westbrook – who was clearly disgruntled when she left Tennessee – told him about her displeasure with the program.

If the Lady Vols are so terrible, why did eight players return and four newcomers show up this season? There are two sides to every story. Authority figures and organizations should not be blindly trusted, but neither should they be assumed to be corrupt and wrong. Young people are much more prone to overreact, say things they should keep to themselves, and exaggerate circumstances. That has always been true, and it would be wise for more people to remember that.

Tennessee coach Kellie Harper and athletic director Phillip Fulmer declined to engage with Auriemma, each saying the program is “moving on.” Hopefully everyone else can too, instead of letting one coach’s erroneous and unfortunate attribution of blame stir up tensions.