Recently I was having a conversation via Twitter. I had watched St. Mary's (CA) play Gonzaga two nights before and was watching them play Portland on this particular night. I tweeted "Is it a requirement to have 'bed head' and/or a splotchy wispy beard to play at St. Mary's?" A simple observation, and a little humorous considering the players look like they don't own combs, brushes, razors, or clippers. Never did I ever say anything about St. Mary's character, style of play, or attack them in any way, shape, or form.
This lead to a couple of tangents in the tweet-versations (I don't know if that is official Twitter-speak, but it sounded good). One of them led to how Coach Wooden would have dealt with having Jesus play for him.
I can't say I have met Coach Wooden; I didn't know him. I do know about him through books and people that did know him. One of the greatest things about Coach was that he never wavered on his principles.
Coach LOVED Jesus. It is well documented that he lived his life by his Christian faith. It is true that Coach NEVER judged people based on their appearance. It is also true that he KNEW that there are more people in this world than not that actually DO judge people by their looks. This is why his players had short hair, no facial hair, and were well kept.
Coach loved Bill Walton too. Walton wanted to wear his hair long. Coach simply replied, "You can wear your hair any way you want... and we will miss you." and that was that. For that reason, I can say with my best educated guess that, YES, Coach Wooden would have said the exact same thing to his lord and savior, Jesus.
I think the point of what I am trying to get at can be summed up with the old saying: If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything. What do you stand for? Why do you stand for that? Do your players know?
Let me also state for the record I think Randy Bennett is a great basketball coach! His players play extremely hard and obviously know the game. There is no doubt in my mind that they are a fantastic team and well coached. Hairstyles and facial hair are just a couple of things that aren't in Coach Bennett's principles. Doesn't make him a bad coach or a bad guy. Nor does it make his players bad players or bad people.
When I am given my opportunity to be a head coach (*fingers crossed and saying a little prayer it happens for me this year*), those things WILL be addressed in my program. I wrote previously about Image and Perception. This doesn't mean I won't recruit kids with long hair, or braids, or facial hair, etc. What it does mean is that they will not have those when they play for me. I am going to use my forum of basketball to teach a life-lesson: You won't get a job unless you look like a professional.
Does that make me a better coach than Randy Bennett? A better person than Randy Bennett? NO to both questions. It just means that my principles are different and I will not bend or change them win/lose/or draw.