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Monday, September 1, 2014

Column: Holding our coaches accountable

Why don’t we punish our coaches as stringently as our athletes?

March 11, 2014

Coaching is the hardest job to master in all of sports.

If a coach is able to churn out wins and championships, fans love him and praise all the wonderful things he’s accomplished. If he fails to produce quality results, it’s a barrage of criticism about how he can’t do anything right.

We view coaches as the leaders of the team and the ones who maintain order among the players. The job, though, brings a wide range of emotions.

In recent weeks, there have been outbursts by a number of NCAA Division I basketball coaches. These occurrences have raised the question, “Is coach behavior in collegiate basketball getting out of hand?”

We hold collegiate athletes in such high regard and not only expect them to succeed on the court but to do so with class, as well.

Shouldn’t the same be said for the coaches, too?

A coach fighting with a referee sends two messages to the players, the first being that the coach cares. The second message indirectly condones this unsportsmanlike behavior we are taught from a young age to avoid engaging in.

If a player had a tantrum to the likes of coach Jim Boeheim, John Calipari or Bob Huggins, he would be drawing far more scrutiny than any of these coaches did. Just because he has a reputation of being a quality coach, or a quality man for the matter, still doesn’t excuse his actions.

I understand it’s a stressful time in the season for these teams with so much on the line and the Big Dance just weeks away, so of course emotions are going to get a little hot. However, it‘s essential for both coaches and players to stay cool, calm and collected to avoid a costly technical foul that could possibly determine the outcome of a game, or worse yet, an entire season.

It’s not OK for coaches to get in a ref’s face over what they believe is a bad call. A ref’s job is to officiate, a player’s job is to play and a coach’s job is to coach. If everyone sticks to his or her job, conflict will be avoided.

Some might find the intensity to be an exciting part of the game. Well, too bad. There is no place for this in the game of basketball, or any sport for that matter. It takes away from what we all really care about: the game. It’s a charade for the media to blow out of proportion, and it taints a great sport.

A system needs to be set in place to fine or punish coaches in some way for their unprofessional behavior on the court. It isn’t fair to punish college athletes and not college coaches, who should be far more mature and professional. If the behavior goes without reprimanding, who’s to say it won’t continue or get worse?

In the end, it’s a job, and coaches must be held accountable.

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