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Something Nice About Robert Caslen

A kind word for the University of South Carolina’s scandal-scarred president …

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This news outlet did not take a position on the controversial election of retired U.S. Army general Robert Caslen as president of the University of South Carolina last summer. As advocates for the privatization of higher education in the Palmetto State (and beyond), it would have been hypocritical of us to endorse one politically backed candidate over another for a position we believe should be left exclusively to the private sector.

Do we think Caslen is up for the job? No …

Do we think the presidential search that resulted in his hiring was on the level? Absolutely not …

Do we think the gifting of this position was the result of U.S. president Donald Trump calling in a favor from South Carolina governor Henry McMaster (who would have lost his 2018 reelection bid were it not for Trump’s last-minute intervention)? Yes …

Having said all of that, broken records rarely get played. And if all our news outlet ever does is bash Caslen (and hand over our microphone for others to bash him), it soon becomes … unsporting.

We have reached out to Caslen several times and offered our microphone to him, but as of this writing he has not taken us up on the opportunity to address our readers.

That’s okay (we understand the logic there) … but the option is always open to him.

Today, though, it falls upon us to find something … anything … we like about Caslen.

Wait a minute … what? Why is that our job?

It isn’t … especially not after Caslen just announced the hiring of his former West Point chief of staff Mark Bieger to a newly created $220,000 a year (not counting benefits) position at South Carolina.

Remember this job opening? It happened fast …

So did several other six-figure gigs at the school.

We will save that criticism for another day, though. Today, we are taking a break from discrediting Caslen to credit him for something.

What did he do?

Those of you who follow Caslen’s social media are no doubt well aware of his university “challenge coins” or “coins of excellence” – medallion-style baubles he doles out to students, staff and faculty who have achieved something noteworthy in his estimation. In most cases, Caslen dishes out these coins to students when they complete a workout with him.

Is this a good thing?

Actually, yes. It is.

And so are the daily workout lists Caslen posts to Twitter.

A 2017 study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior revealed that the percentage of overweight or obese college students climbed from 23 percent to 41 percent during their four years on campus – a 78 percent increase.

That is a disturbing statistic … but not a surprising one when you consider the epidemic of childhood obesity that has swept across our nation in recent years. Well guess what: Unhealthy kids become unhealthy college students … who then become unhealthy adults. And these unhealthy adults then proceed to drive up health care costs for the rest of us when confronted with the consequences of their unhealthy choices.

There are bigger costs, too. Those who struggle with obesity often feel worse about themselves … and feel worse physically.

Accordingly, we support efforts to encourage physical fitness on college campuses … even if those efforts are coming from people whose leadership in other areas is dubious (at best).

As a new year begins, we would encourage all of our readers to think about making better health choices – both for themselves and for those who care about them. You don’t have to train for a marathon. Or even start running or working out every day. Just think of ways you can start being a little bit more active (taking walks, buying a treadmill) … and eating a little bit better.

And then try every week to do a little bit more … (and maybe eat a little bit less/ eat smarter).

Want a few tips on how to get started in 2020? Click here ….

And while you are at it, consider giving that intermittent fasting thing a try … it really does help you sleep sounder and think sharper when you wake up.

Whatever choice you make, you’d be amazed at what you can accomplish with a little focus … and a little willpower.

And remember, the only results that truly matter are you feeling better physically … and feeling better about yourself. This is not about conforming or competing, it is all about improving yourself.

So thanks to Caslen for drawing attention to this important issue. And we would encourage others in high-profile positions to use their platforms to promote physical fitness as well.

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