University of Colorado head football coach Deion Sanders has put his squad on notice.
“One thing I don’t condone is disrespect to a woman,” Coach Sanders told his new team, which was assembled in a theater on the Boulder campus last week. Standing in front of a line of female students, the former Jackson State coach and NFL and MLB standout was characteristically blunt with his new crew of gridiron collegians.
“So when you pass by these beautiful young women, I don’t know if they grace you to call them by their name or their title,” he told them. “You find out. Be courteous, be gracious, and be polite.”
A Christian who made a commitment to the Lord during his baseball playing days, Deion Sanders is known for candid talk about all aspects of life, especially personal responsibility and character. While coaching in Mississippi, his informal team talks often went viral on YouTube. Now charged with rebuilding the Colorado Buffaloes, the new coach announced a zero-tolerance policy regarding abuse.
“If there’s any dysfunction, obstruction with your girlfriend, fiancée, or whoever, with any abuse, that’s it, it’s over,” Sanders told the team. “Don’t call me, don’t have your momma call me, don’t call Rick (Colorado’s Athletic Director) It’s a wrap. You understand that? [We’re] gonna respect our women wholeheartedly.”
Over the years, the University of Colorado football program has managed various scandals, including charges the school has used sex and drugs to recruit players.
In a sliding culture where once universally understood principles of decency and respect were automatic, setting expectations is critical for any leader, especially a coach expected to corral and shepherd hormonally charged young men. And expecting young men to act and behave responsibly and respectfully towards women is also necessary if we’re to foster a healthy climate. We need to expect more of our young people. We need to set the bar high. Coach Sanders recognizes that he isn’t just guiding a football team – he’s helping raise the next generation of husbands, fathers and leaders.
It’s inevitable that Deion Sanders’ standards and policies will be put to the test. But as the coach himself once said, “Whenever you make a promise, you have a responsibility to that promise.” The coach has drawn the line, and players dare not cross it or face the consequences of their poor decision.