Accountability Is Tough
One of the most interesting recent developments in sports, both professional and collegiate is that players have gained quite a bit of power in the last few years. That’s led to quite a bit of “get off my lawn”-ists complaining about how soft players are and how tough it is to be a coach. Enter Geno Auriemma, head coach of the UConn Women’s basketball team and arguably the most successful coach in the history of the game (all of college basketball; comparing it to the pros is difficult):
“The majority of coaches in America are afraid of their players,” Auriemma said. “The NCAA, the athletic directors and society has made them afraid of their players. Every article you read: ‘This guy’s a bully. This woman’s a bully. This guy went over the line. This woman was inappropriate.’ Yet the players get off scot-free in everything. They can do whatever they want. They don’t like something you say to them, they transfer. Coaches, they have to coach with one hand behind their back. Why? Because some people have abused the role of a coach.”
The important bit is that bolded part. And it’s been happening for a very long time. Bob Knight was an asshole of the highest degree. But he won championships, and the 70s and 80s was a different world. So he could throw a chair across a court and be loved.
Maybe this is one of the ways that I’m more millenial than GenX, but if I had a coach embarrass me the way, say Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo seems to be fond of doing… even in my youth I’d probably have shoved him, tossed my jersey at him and walked out.
The fact is, if any other university employee treated a student the way that many coaches do, they’d be escorted off campus by the end of the day. And yeah, I get it, it’s emotional and high pressure and all that… yet so many of these coaches talk about teaching players to be strong men and women. Abusiveness is not strength. Never has been, and it’s time the teachers learned that.