A Chance Dialog with Socrates at Greenlake
By Mike Archbold, Posted 13 June 2003
Socrates: Greetings, friend. I see your brow is furrowed and you are lost in
Mike: I am troubled, O Socrates.
Socrates: I see; it is a pleasant evening, and not one to entertain
troubles. What is your concern?
Mike: The head coach of the Washington Huskies football team has been
terminated for "poor judgment" -- as it was written by the coach's employer.
Socrates: By Zeus! Terminated! I have seen the football team play on
television several times and have marveled at the skill of the athletes and
the wisdom of the coaches, though. I don't have enough knowledge of the
rules to fully enjoy the event. I must attend a game in person some time. In
Athens we did not have the sport, but it looks exciting. I
would love to learn more about football since I know practically nothing.
Tell me, what sort of judgment must the head coach exercise?
Mike: He is the master organizer. He recruits the players, guides them in
the choice of positions, runs the many practices, plans the strategies for
the games, counsels the
athletes in their play and personal life, oversees the complicated plays
during the games, meets with the media, and so forth.
Socrates: That seems like a demanding job. Was the coach then using poor
judgment in recruiting?
Mike: No, O Socrates, his recruiting was excellent.
Socrates: I see. He must have been disorganized in assembling the men for
practices, earning condemnation for poor judgment thus?
Mike: No, Socrates, he performed that well.
Socrates: Then I assume that he must have been unpopular with the players,
staff, or media, and was guilty of slights and other offenses which are
considered poor judgment?
Mike: No, Socrates, he was popular and well-liked by most everybody, except
the other local teams who he usually beat and sportswriters like Art Thiel.
Socrates: I see. Then the "poor judgment" which he was accused of exercising
must have resulted from him being unable to win games?
Mike: No, Socrates. He always produced a winning season and also a major
Socrates: This seems to be a very difficult job, this coaching. It confounds
me to know in what way he exercised poor judgment. Perhaps he was a man of
anger and violence,
thus being unethical in this way and causing his associates to tire of his
Mike: Oh No, Socrates.
Socrates: But if a man were violent, he would be thus unethical?
Mike: Of course, O Socrates.
Socrates: And if the head coach were not violent himself, yet condoned
violence, it would be unethical for him to do so?
Mike: It must be so.
Socrates: Does one player not frequently strike another player?
Mike: That happens frequently, O Socrates.
Socrates: I see. Then the head coach was accused of poor judgment because he
Mike: No Socrates, that is not unethical.
Socrates: By Zeus! But you just told me that violence was unethical!
Mike: O Socrates, that is not considered to be unethical. Contact and
collisions are part of the sport and deemed worthy of athletes.
Socrates: I see. I confess I cannot determine in what way the head coach
exercised poor judgment.
Mike: He was caught wagering money upon sport.
Socrates: I see. We sometimes thus gambled as a pastime in Athens. But I
assume that he was engaged in rigging a game for profit, poor and unethical
Mike: He was not thus engaged, Socrates.
Socrates: Then was it the case that he was a problem gambler, losing his
fortunes to chance and thus reduced to a state of want?
Mike: That was not the case.
Socrates: Then it must be illegal in your republic to
Mike: It is not, O Socrates. The government uses gambling to raise revenues.
Socrates: Then he must have been advised by his organization that it was
poor judgment to engage in gambling?
Mike: In fact, he was advised in a document by an official that it was
permissible to gamble in the fashion which the coach had gambled.
Socrates: By Zeus! I am confounded. I confess I cannot understand in what
way the head coach exercised poor judgment. It appears to me to be an
injustice. Does it not appear that the coach's accusers are themselves
guilty of "poor judgment"?
Mike: It so appears, O Socrates.
Socrates: I bid you farewell, friend, and perhaps I will see
you at a football contest! We must raise a toast to Apollo.
Mike: We must raise a toast, O Socrates. Farewell.