If you wonder why many high-caliber athletes have a sense of entitlement, you need to look no further than the case of Tony Wroten Jr. In an excellent piece of reporting by Mason Kelley, the Seattle Times ran a story on Wroten alleging academic fraud. Adults and educators allegedly bent over backwards to cater to his needs, specifically when it came to getting him into college. Wroten was handed a grade he never earned.
It started with the basketball coach. Garfield head coach Ed Haskins came to athletic director Jim Valiere with a problem. Wroten needed two years of Spanish to gain admittance into the University of Washington, the school he'd chosen at a very public press conference just a few months earlier. Wroten had received a D in his first-year Spanish class, preventing him from meeting the requirements for the second year of the course. In order to enroll at Washington, he needed two years of foreign language credits.
Haskins asked Valiere to teach a course specifically for Wroten. This is where the problem and conflict arises. Why would Haskins ask the athletic director to teach Wroten Spanish? Valiere had known Wroten since second grade and would be an easy "mark," if you will. He understood the challenges Wroten faced and would be more sympathetic to his cause.
From there, it was a domino-like reaction. Valiere allegedly gave Wroten a free-pass, awarding him with a C for doing no work at all. When a district investigation revealed the classes were a farce and grades were changed with no work done by the students, Valiere was fired and Wroten was still in need of his Spanish credits. He was back at square-one again with time running out.
Garfield principal Ted Howard continued the trend of catering to Wroten, bending over backwards to create an extra class for Wroten and two others. A substitute teacher was hired and Wroten, essentially, received one-on-one teaching. It was all done under the guise of not penalizing the kids for the impropriety of the adults surrounding them. In the midst of a budget crunch, Howard added a class for three students at Garfield, all in an effort to get Wroten into college.
Wroten isn't blameless in all of this. While the adults around him bent over backwards to cater to his needs, he was traveling the globe, playing summer basketball in Europe and throughout the United States. If the Spanish class was so important, Wroten could have stayed home, attended a legitimate summer school and taken care of the grade. Instead, he played basketball as those around him took care of his grades.
At every single level there were failures, from the basketball coach all the way to the top of the chain at Garfield. And because of those failures, those in charge of fostering growth instead fostered a sense of entitlement. Wroten was passed along, as he likely has for most of his life in the spotlight, as adults try to "help."
When adults around highly-touted athletes take care of everything from a young age, it instills entitlement, subconsciously or otherwise. All the athlete has to do is perform on the field of play; The rest will take care of itself as others around them bend-over backwards. It's not healthy for the athletes, who will carry that sense of entitlement with them throughout their lives.
The good in this story comes in the form of Lorenzo Romar. There's not a coach I have more respect for in college basketball and if there's one man that can get through to Wroten, it's Romar. But someone, somewhere along the way, needs to stop the falling dominoes.