Saturday, May 09, 2009

parable in progress

Do you believe in forgiving or forsaking? The reaction to the news that Daniel Hood has received a football scholarship from the University of Tennessee makes it clear that some are ready to forgive and many still want to forsake.

Hood was a star player and excellent student at Knoxville Catholic High School. He was admitted to KCHS after being in the custody of the Department of Children's Services and completing a rehabilitation program. At age 13, Hood was convicted for his role in a disgusting sexual assault upon his 14-year-old cousin by her 17-year-old boyfriend. He helped restrain the girl with duct tape, retrieved other objects and then stood by during the worst of the attack. He now wishes that he had stopped the older male. At the time he was afraid that the other man may have had gang affiliations and may have been armed.

Columnists and bloggers partial to other SEC teams were quick to write that the University of Tennessee had signed a convicted rapist to their football team. I wonder if their motivation is fueled more by a dislike of the Vols than by any compassion. One writer points out that Hood's age at the time of the offense is the only thing keeping him from wearing an orange jumpsuit instead of an orange jersey this fall. Even fans of the Vols have their doubts about Hood.

If your child got into serious trouble, how might you react? Would you send him to a military school or a parochial school to get straightened out? In the nearly six years since the assault, Hood has become someone that KCHS principal Dickie Sompayrac is proud of. Hood credits his Christian beliefs for making a different person out of him. Mr. Sompayrac says he is willing to stake the school's reputation on its recommendation of Hood. As a parent of two KCHS graduates, I know Mr. Sompayrac and trust his assessment.

The victim herself is for Hood's redemption, not for revenge. She wrote a letter to UT on her cousin's behalf. I guess it all comes down to whether or not you believe that someone can truly change for the better. We often hear about people who change for the worse. Why shouldn't it work the other way?

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