Dave Christensen was suspended for a week and fined after this meltdown following Wyoming's loss to Air Force, in which he accused his counterpart of having the Falcons quarterback fake an injury to stop the clock. Our favorite quote, very to-the-point, was Christensen's accusatory "You have no fuckin' ethics, Troy."
But who are we, unenlightened sports bloggers, to judge ethics? Why not get someone who truly understands human morality? Two professors of philosophy at the University of Wyoming came to Christensen's defense, in an op-ed published this week in the Casper Star-Tribune. Their argument, essentially, that Christensen's outburst wasn't nearly as egregious as faking an injury, and that Christensen's sense of justice should outweigh his blowup.
Cheating in this way should entail grave ethical concern (as Christensen attempted to express to Calhoun, albeit without much diplomacy or grace). Not only did it arguably allow Air Force to win the game, but a college player's collapse is a heartrending event. Other players, the coaching staffs and thousands of spectators surely believed at the moment that something potentially awful had happened to the young man. And to evoke such empathy under false pretense is morally reprehensible.
So, what are the messages that have been sent to impressionable young minds and the larger public? It would appear that for Christensen, etiquette and self-restraint are less important than ethical discernment and moral outrage. In terms of what this says about his program, the message is rather clear: "I cannot tolerate cheaters" (or "I cannot f—— - tolerate f—— - cheaters").
And for the Mountain West Conference and the Air Force Academy, the message would be more troublesome. The impression one gets from the MWC would be: "Apparent instances of lying and cheating do not warrant investigation or punishment, even when there is compelling evidence and harm to others." For Air Force, the message seems to be: "We'll do anything to beat a presumptively lesser opponent." The lack of an investigation by the academy makes one wonder about their lofty claim: "We will not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does."
Ironically, it seems that when Wyoming played the Air Force on Military Appreciation Day, Christensen took the honor code more seriously than Troy Calhoun.
Four out of five Neoplatonists agree: nobody cares about injustice at the bottom of the Mountain West standings.
Conduct Unbecoming: Cowboy Ethics and Falcon Morality [Star-Tribune]