Kolton Houston’s had a rough 3 1/2 years. He was suspended by the NCAA just before the beginning of his Freshman season at Georgia following an All-American high school football career. One year later, he was banned by the NCAA for failing the same drug test. Last week his claim that he failed those tests because a doctor injected him with steroids following shoulder surgery in high school appear to be validated as the NCAA reinstated Houston – on his birthday no less. As good a story as his perseverance may be, I would probably not have cared very much and would certainly not have penned this post if Houston’s comments in response to this news had been more in line with what one might have expected. However, I was deeply impressed with what I heard and took two lessons from what I saw and heard.
Kolton never gave up. This entire ordeal took him slightly less time than a college career usually does, but he never conceded the obvious and gave up football. He continued training, practicing, and participating with the team to the extent that he was permitted. He took dozens of drug tests and underwent three separate experimental and “risky” procedures to try to flush the unwanted steroids that had become trapped in his body. His persistence puts me to shame. How often do interpret a series of obstacles as a sign that I should refocus my efforts? How many times have I been one more push away from breaking through the frustration that has been plaguing me? This guy’s actions quietly remind me that persistence can make a dogged staying of the course seem heroic in the end.
Most impressively, Kolton did not become bitter. By all appearances, his love of the game drove his determination, not a determination to prove the NCAA wrong. I would have expected Houston to underscore the fact that he had always been “innocent” or to make a statement suggesting that his struggle should serve to point out the flaws in the NCAA’s drug testing policies. But he did neither. Not only did he decline to verbally thump his chest when asked his opinion of the entire process, he said nothing that could be construed as anything but positive. In fact he stated during the interview aired on ESPN that while others may say that he had been wronged by the NCAA, they have a rule and rules are made to be followed. Again, this young man’s maturity reminds me of how far I have to grow. I’ve had an overdeveloped sense of justice for a long time. I am a very patient guy … unless I believe I have been wronged. Kolton Houston provides one more example of personal character that I aspire to: my actions can not be dictated by my circumstances or by that actions of others.
I’ve never met Kolton and will probably never come into personal contact with him. But he left a great impression on me last week and challenged me with a few simple words. I hope I can show half as much character as he did if I am ever in a similar situation.