An Example of Standing for What We Believe In

Here is, to me, a very touching and heart-affirming story about the respect that we each, as spirit-in-human, deserve from each other. Marquess Wilson, a star player for the Washington Cougars, has decided to leave the program due to the way his coach(es) treat the players.

In the US, a decision like this is almost unheard of. Football on this continent is considered one of the ultimate "man's man" games, where all manner of verbal and physical abuse is not only tolerated but expected. It is, we have believed, what we must do to create "winners." In the past, a player doing something like Wilson did would be considered the ultimate in cry-baby behavior, and said player would be scoffed at and ridiculed. It's heartening to note that, while many people disagree with his decision, there was very little fall-out in the manner of direct ridicule and condemnation.

I'm particularly impressed with how respectfully this young man presented his reasons for leaving the program. He stated his feelings and his reasons without resorting to whining, rage, or name-calling. He respectfully stated what works for him and what does not, talked about his sadness over the issue, about his hopes for change, and finally, what he personally chose to do when no other alternative seemed possible. To me, his is a real-life example of taking responsibility for one's own reality - when it doesn't work we move on to something that does. We might state our reasons if we need to do so, or feel that it might help change a situation that we don't agree with, but ultimately we simply move on while leaving behind what might still work for others.

Wilson issued this statement on Saturday, November 10, 2012:

Dear Cougar Nation:

It is with a heavy heart that I announce my decision to forgo playing football for Washington State University. I realize the school is saying that I am suspended for violating team policies and may return next week, but this is a lie. This is an attempt by the athletic department to cover up what is really happening in that locker room.

It is been a privilege to be a Cougar, to perform on your field and wear the Crimson and Gray. I would like to thank Washington State University for giving me the opportunity to do what I love most, to play football and receive a quality education for the past three years. I'm grateful to the athletic department for the coaching, care and encouragement I have received prior to this season.

This was going to be our year. My teammates and I were aspiring to be the winning team you deserve. Unfortunately for all, the new coaching staff has destroyed that endeavor. I believe coaches have a chance to mold players, to shape men, to create greatness. However, the new regime of coaches has preferred to belittle, intimidate and humiliate us. This approach has obviously not been successful, and has put a dark shadow on this program.

My teammates and I have endured this treatment all season long. It is not "tough love". It is abuse. This abuse cannot be allowed to continue. I feel it is my duty to stand up and shed light on this situation by sacrificing my dreams, my education and my pride. I resign from this team. I am deeply sorry to those I am letting down. I am not a quitter. I was raised by my family, and many previous coaches to exhibit dedication and embrace sacrifice, but there comes a time when one has to draw a line in the sand.

Lastly, I thank my fellow teammates, those who also have left the program this year, and those we are leaving behind. I hope our departure will bring awareness to the physical, emotional and verbal abuse being allowed in the locker room and on the field. I pray for healing and recovery for all those who have been hurt by this treatment


Marquess Wilson

"It is not 'tough love.' It is abuse." A statement for the age of enlightenment if there ever was one. As the group through Steve Rother likes to say, "No more secrets, no more lies." Indeed.

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