As a young man in Brazil, Edgard Barreto was a fine soccer player for a prestigious club learn in Sao Paulo. In 1983, at age 44, having long since moved to the U.S., he went on a 1,400-mile Gump run from Naples, Fla., to Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. In '93 he got into the Guinness Book of Records by running 101 marathons in 12 months. Now a 60-year-old graduate student in sports science, Barreto is thankful for the no-cut policy on the Division II football squad at Ashland (Ohio) University. "I'm probably the worst guy on the team," he says brightly.
Forty years after he played defensive back at Ashland, the 5'10", 160-pound Barreto, a retired high school science teacher, is back playing safety at his old school. "When I found out he was coming out for the team, I was apprehensive," says coach Gary Keller. "But he's sincere, and having him out there working hard is a benefit for the whole team."
For the first two months of the season, Barreto suited up for games but never played. Last Saturday, however, with Ashland leading St. Francis College of Joliet, Ill., 28-0, he took the field at Community Stadium for one play in the final minute. Though he didn't make a tackle or break up a pass, it was the thrill of his athletic career. His teammates let him ring the traditional victory bell on campus. "For an old man, it was a dream come true," he says. "Three weeks before the season I was in the retired life, drinking coffee in Spain. Saturday I was out there with the boys ringing that bell."
It may take a string of garlic cloves or a wooden stake to quell the bloodlust of Ruwiyati, a mononymic distance runner from Indonesia. "As soon as I reach the finish line, I suck my coach's blood from his finger," she says. "I feel refreshed." Ruwiyati won the marathon at last month's Southeast Asian Games in 2:46:20 and then refreshed herself at the hand of her coach, Alwi Mugiyanto. Ruwiyati, 20, began blood sucking in 1991, and in '93 she chomped down on Mugiyanto's neck before races at Indonesia's national games. Ruwiyati won the 10K and the marathon that year.
Given the mind-numbing incidence of athlete misbehavior chronicled daily on the sports pages, the term sports ethics might seem an oxymoron. But for Russell Gough, a philosophy professor at Pepperdine, sports and ethics are not only compatible, they're inseparable. Gough, in fact, wrote the book on the subject, Character Is Everything: Promoting Ethical Excellence in Sports, which was published last winter by Harcourt Brace. For eight years he has taught a course in sports ethics to first-year varsity athletes.
The class discusses topics ranging from cheating to the emphasis placed on winning to the appropriateness of sports figures as role models. Readings include Gough's book, as well as sports biographies and academic works on ethics and philosophy. During the second half of the semester, students break into groups to research and prepare papers on specific issues.
"The class taught me that developing good character is like learning to bunt; you've got to practice," says Dave Sugden, a senior catcher on the Waves' baseball team. Gough, who has adapted his teachings for a general audience in a new book, Character Is Destiny, says the most fulfilling part of his teaching is "seeing students start thinking about the issues of character and ethics in areas beyond the playing field."
Sugden is a case in point. "Next year I'll be going to law school," he says. "Then my ethics will really be tested."