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Football player issues confession, but not apology for assaults


Dave Gordon - Friday, 1 January, 2016

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Though a confession is integral to an apology, it is insufficient as an apology. We see that proven in a recent incident when an athlete spoke words of remorse for hurting two people.

Texas Christian University quarterback Trevone Boykin was arrested recently and charged with a third-degree felony for assaulting a police officer following an altercation outside of a San Antonio bar.

According to police, Boykin struck a bar employee during the incident inside the bar, and then struck an officer after being escorted outside. Shortly after the incident, Boykin released a statement apologizing for the incident, on Twitter.

“Words can't describe how sorry I am… I truly let down my family, teammates and the TCU and Fort Worth communities who have supported me so much.
I have no excuses for my very poor decision, and I'm embarrassed about it. My teammates are my brothers. There's nothing I wanted to do more than play one last game with my seniors.

Having my TCU degree means more to me than anything. I'm going to do my best to restore every Horned Frogs' confidence in me…

I wish I could be there, but I won't because of my mistake that I have no one to blame but myself.

I sincerely thank TCU for everything it has provided me, including an opportunity to earn my degree which I will always cherish.

I will forever be a proud TCU Horned Frog, and I apologize to everyone again for my lapse in judgement [sic]. I hope others can learn from my mistake. I can assure you that I have, because it took away the incredible honor and privilege it was to wear a TCU jersey.”

Boykin was (rightfully) suspended for the bowl game.

ANALYSIS:

It’s not entirely a bad apology, especially given the fact that it was sent out immediately. Addressing an issue head on while it’s still fresh usually demonstrates a guilty conscience, and a want to atone.

In this regard, it is a welcome relief from the times when someone has to be told they’ve done something wrong before apologizing, or forced to apologize, or allows the problems to compound or fester for days, weeks or months – or even years.

But his statement is still missing some key elements that would ensure it sound less like a template, and more about sincere repenting.

The first piece of advice I would give Trevone is to speak of the moral weight that his actions should be accorded.

It isn’t merely a “very poor decision,” a singular “lapse in judgment” or a “mistake.” Two physical assaults in one evening – particularly of an officer of the law - falls more into the moral category of “wrong”.

Saying anything less diminishes the crime.

In fact, it would be helpful for Trevone to elaborate, to actually indicate that he was violent, and to condemn violence of any sort. As it stands, anyone reading his words and ignorant of the context wouldn’t get a sense of the totality of the harm he caused.

Rather, he unwisely speaks only about how the assaults affected him.

The apology, as printed above, has been truncated for brevity, but I would further redact it to get to the heart of his remorse, without having to spend useless time talking about the team.

“Words can't describe how sorry I am… I truly let down my family, teammates and the TCU and Fort Worth communities who have supported me so much. I have no excuses for my very poor decision, and I'm embarrassed about it.

I'm going to do my best to restore every Horned Frogs' confidence in me. It is my mistake and I have no one to blame but myself.

I hope others can learn from my mistake. I can assure you that I have, because it took away the incredible honor and privilege it was to wear a TCU jersey.”

When Trevone says he’ll do his “best to restore” confidence, it is nice to say, yet there’s no prescription on how he’ll accomplish this. So his apology isn’t a genuine, kosher apology that aims for restitution, so much as a vague confession.

So, for certain deep harms, a confession - or even apology - is insufficient. Repentance and atonement often require that the transgressor volunteer to give up something – and/or have something taken away. This transaction is what I refer to as “collateral of trust.”

It means there are not only natural consequences to actions, but there must also be tangible indicators of remorse, deterrent and trust-building. As apology expert (and friend) John Kador, has often said, “You can’t talk your way out of something you’ve acted into.”

Usually, no harmful action is free of cost.

So while Trevone was removed from the team, for bringing disrepute to the Horned Frogs, additionally the recommended course of action to “restore confidence” would also be investing his time, in a concrete way, to repair damages:

Will he go to anger management courses? Will he apologize to the people whom he’s physically hurt? Will he offer to pay their medical bills for injury? Will he offer to speak to school kids on anti-violence issues?

It would be helpful to know.

These initiatives send the message: let’s keep the roughness on the field, where it belongs, and never resort to physical harm anywhere else.

 

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