UH Enigma: What is Loyalty in 2011?

What does “loyalty” mean in the year 2011?

I loyalty something eternal and unchangeable in its true meaning? Or is it something that shrinks or expands, based upon the values of a given culture at a particular moment in time? Let’s consider our American cultural commitment to marriage as a good place to explore the issue of loyalty. Were Americans who married in the church in 1946 more committed to marital fidelity as a special form of loyalty than couples in 2011 who are getting married in civil ceremonies? Does one size fit all? Does church vs. civil ceremony bear any importance? Does it simply depend on the character and values of the people getting married – at any point in time. Or were people who grew up under the influence of our post World War II social climate more likely to practice loyalty in marriage than their 2011 contemporaries?

Take it on out from the marriage and family sphere to everyday business and our relationships with others? How many examples of late can you think of in which someone took a better paying or more prestigious job elsewhere to the detriment of the shared cause they left behind for the perceived opportunity of their own faster personal gain elsewhere?  SInce I’m really on that subject anyway today, let’s take a brief look at loyalty in organized athletics. In sports, the many examples run like a never-ending bottom of the screen “streamer screamer:” … Kevin Sumlin leaves Houston for Texas A&M … Albert Pujols leaves St. Louis for LA Angels. …”

Each time it happens, that some sports figure cashes in loyalty to a particular school or organization for more money or “better terms,” it’s almost always written about as an “opportunity” he or she could not pass up, and as  “nothing personal” toward the people and entities left behind.

My apologies. I’m still recovering from the Kevin Sumlin abandonment of UH. It happened so fast. Did he run out and buy that maroon rep tie he wore to his first Aggie press conference? Or did he have it in his wardrobe all along? If its the latter, he probably needs to burn the bright red and burnt orange ones.

I just can’t get over how easily some people accept what Sumlin did. Maybe its their disinterest – or their world-wiser ways with money and the way things are. I was never too smart (or driven) by the big money angle. I was always more concerned with what I was doing – and why I was doing it. If it was right for me, the money just seemed to follow. And if it wasn’t, it didn’t.

What are we saying here?

Are we saying by our rather cool acceptance of this pattern as “business as usual” that loyalty doesn’t matter if something “better” comes up for one cog in the wheel along the way? And does that also mean that contracts are only binding to those who want to keep them in effect? And that it’s OK to just bolt from  a deal, or pay the penalty fee, when “opportunity knocks” and a “better deal screams out “forget them and follow me.”

I’m serious. If you own a smaller company, do you want people running things for you who are going to get picked off like ripe cherries by larger competitors if they succeed while you get to keep only the dull or incompetent ones? I didn’t think so.

Call it loyalty, or maybe even just chalk it up to the fact there are people in this world who prefer the challenge of the underdog battle or the uphill climb to equal footing with others. These people understand that their job is about the larger program goals they are being employed to fulfill – and not – how can I make myself good so that someone bigger, with more political muscle, will hire me away.

UH Athletic Director Mack Rhoades knows what I’m talking about. He described in this morning’s Chronicle when he spoke of page C(4) about what he’s looking for in a new Cougar football coach:

“(I’m looking for) a person who understands that it’s about the program,” Rhoades said. “Somebody with great integrity. I want someone that is a great mentor and role model for our student athletes. I think a head football coach has to be a CEO. It’s huge operation.”

Rhoades’ words say that he understands exactly the importance of loyalty. It isn’t available from everyone, but it is in some. And these are the rare persons whose talents come wrapped in integrity, a capacity for bonding, and a willing ability to commit to a cause that is larger than their needs for person gain through the first external opportunity that comes along as a result of their base efforts in the place they now abandon..

That person was not Kevin Sumlin and that’s OK. Better to find him out now than later.

The next guy, however …. the next guy needs to be the man – the kind of man who, at least, bears within him a capacity for choosing loyalty to the cause over betrayal to personal opportunity. Meanwhile, as UH rebuilds and goes beyond anything else its ever done, it should continue to sweeten the coaching salary and benefits pot in a way that makes it even easier for its coaches to choose internal loyalty over external opportunity.

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4 Responses to “UH Enigma: What is Loyalty in 2011?”

  1. larry joe miggns Says:

    Money is the new loyality, Sumlin didn’t talk with anyone at A&M but his agent did,Classic Spin Doctor, Same story third verse, Long live the Cougars.Sure wish A&M had more Intregity to wait three more days to go after Sumlin. Would have meant a lot to all in Conference USA( about 13 million) and the Cougars might have won.Hope it bites A&M in the rear.

  2. Randy Says:

    If one does a thorough examination of ones’ values, and then sells that system down the river, one can never, never get it back. Most people don’t proceed and continue in examining and adhering to a value system that contains all the standard attributes. For those that do, and then sell out, but then try to recoup their “losses”, it comes at the expense of a relentless haunting.
    Naive or not, there once seemed to be a time when conserving the innocence and purity of children was paramount. They would ultimately be the most sensitive to wrongdoing when they encountered it as adults. How innocent are the children that we raise today in our society as they transition to adulthood?
    Peace of mind, happiness and values are the gift we give to others, and get in return, as we live as examples to others, moreso to our children. The children of the jaded will never know this as generation passes from one to another. And here we are. And there we go.
    I am my brothers’ keeper, but only if my brother will know me as I know him. Otherwise, he’ll never bother to “keep” me should that time come. Loyalty is just one of the values that has become antiquated to the point of being almost obsolete in our society almost totally without innocence and purity.

  3. Wayne Roberts Says:

    Ok guys, it’s called the market system. That’s how it works. UH will take someone away from somewhere else. There’s a big difference between a marriage and being a head coach/manager or player at any level of sports. One’s an oath to God and the spouse, the other’s a business deal. I don’t make oaths to my employers. The one obvious difference is elected officials who do take an oath but it’s not for a lifetime, it’s for term of service. The oath one takes to serve on a board or commission is not to never leave, but to serve ethically, not forever.

  4. Robert Rodriguez Says:

    Mr. McCurdy, I would very much like to speak with you and don’t know how else to contact you. It is regarding an item, I came across, that I believe belonged to your friend Mr. Jerry Witte. Please contact me via email so I can forward my contact number to you.

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