Don’t hide behind a pen and a prefect robe

Prefect Nuriel Moghavem,

It is with great respect for your right to free speech and a non-judgemental and sympathetic point of view that I respond to your recent article in the Chronicle (Opinion, Wednesday April 25, 2007), stating that the men’s golf team fails to make any contribution to the HW community as a whole and should be removed. I am an alum from Harvard School and am very proud of what the school has evolved into. I too, wrote for the Chronicle and am saddened to see that as we gloat in the awards that our beloved school paper receives, our level of journalistic professionalism gets compromised, and that we allow too often the same “lazy reporting” that we similarly see every day in society.

First, let me say thank you. Thank you for bringing attention to one of the most underrated programs at Harvard-Westlake. Thank you for finally directing attention to a small and select group of young men who go about their business without recognition. And thank you for your true genius in publicly calling out the men’s golf team for their lack of transparency, and volunteering to throw yourself under the bus as the whistle-blower, the name caller, and “outer” of truth. We truly owe you one. Now go get your golf clubs and carry them proudly across campus.

To assist you and the people to which we are accountable to, it is important to clarify what the day to day duties of the golf team are. On the days that we do not participate in golf matches, roughly 4 days a week, including weekends, the golf team practices on their own, unsupervised by the school. Each one of them pays out of his pocket for lessons and instruction. They sacrifice their spring break to represent the school in various tournaments competing against other fascists and separatists from high schools around southern California. During the 2nd trimester, they take a training class three days a week to prepare for the upcoming season. And unlike other sports whose games last no more than an hour and a half or so, our matches last anywhere from three to six hours, not counting the travel time. At the end of these matches, win or lose, the teams shake hands to honor their efforts and forge strongly the idea that the competition is left on the field. Golf is one of the oldest sports known to man, dating back to the 13rh century. It is universally recognized as a gentleman’s game, where honor and integrity govern the rules of the sport to this day. To compete on the golf team, it is the minimum requirement to exhibit a skill set that includes honesty, accountability, discipline, work ethic, self-management, overcoming adversity, dealing with failure, sportsmanship, passion and dedication, to name a few. I understand you deal in “opinion”, but we deal in fact; the game of golf is commonly referenced as a true metaphor for life because of it’s innate ability to reveal one’s character, as it pertains to an entire buffet of human characteristics.

The Golf Team, by definition stands for a list of qualities and characteristics each and every time they take the course. This does not change. We know who we are and what we stand for. Do you? And do the rest of the people you so humbly speak for? You have hit on something here. The HW community has good reason to resent this group of student athletes. They are hard workers; one cannot be good at the game without hours and years of practice. They are truly selfless, playing an individual game within the confines of a team concept, where they are forced to put their own best interests second to their teams. They have integrity. They follow a strict set of rules and enforce them on their own. They are accountable. Whatever score they take on a hole, good shot or bad shot, win or lose, they have to deal with that, no ifs ands or buts. This kind of behavior makes people uncomfortable. It doesn’t teach you about them, it teaches you about yourself. The thing about opinions is that they can forever be debated, and everyone is entitled to one. In most cases, such as this one, there are no consequences for your posting your opinion publicly. But in the real world, and in life, there are consequences for one’s actions. And we all know that actions speak louder than words. If you and your opinion represent the masses, then it is possible that we re-examine what direction we are headed and the principles we honor. If you are looking for the golfers to join you in finger pointing, mockery and hiding behind a pen and a prefect robe, that is something you will have to ask them individually. But my guess is that they will quietly, without bringing attention to themselves, decline your offer. They don’t need to kick up any dust, puff out their chests, or stand on their soap boxes to chase after the unattainable; respect. Respect, like friendship or trust or credibility, is earned, and it happens when no one else is watching.

It is my opinion that the golf team represents an ideal that most of us hope to achieve, going forward, in the future. It is something that each and every one of us can aspire to. Good values withstand the test of time. That is why they are called values.. And the last time I checked, that was a good thing. Please don’t underestimate this group, or outcast them for not representing the finest young generation today at HW. Upon closer inspection, and more thorough research, you will discover that the men’s golf team fights quietly to uphold the foundation on which Harvard-Westlake was built on, and in fact serves the community as well as any organization in existence. If the people are unhappy about this, then they should do the same thing our society is currently being forced to do; reevaluate prior course of action, get off of these stances that we fight so hard to remain on without even knowing why it is we still remain on them, other than because we were told to, and DO SOMETHING! Take action, be responsible, make good decisions, and do the right thing. I am putting your transparency accusation to the test. I suspect this letter will just get buried somewhere. If so, your character will be revealed. If not, then I applaud you for having the courage to put the facts out in the open for discussion.

Either way, I thank you, again, for bringing to light more than a golf team and a school, but a mission for all of us to fight for; social responsibility and awareness. I fear that your subtlety and dry sense of reverse humor might be misunderstood by the masses you lead. Please make sure that your disciples know that you are kidding, that they know that you are ahead of the curve, and know that you are, by singling out the golf team, really commenting on those who do not have the same sense of responsibility to the direction of our youth that you do.


Coach Wood