If you are a regular reader of this blog, you probably already know what a huge fan of Rick Reilly I am. He has some amazing insights into the world of athletics as well as a tremendous wit. Today's ESPN article from Rick Reilly was very poignant in regards to sportsmanship and the role of a coach.
The article can be found HERE. In it he talks about the #1 team in high school basketball, Houston's Yates High School.
I love to win. I don't think there is a coach alive who doesn't. I love winning in a convincing fashion even more. You know the wins; your players play hard, they execute with precision, the five players on the floor working together like a fine Swiss timepiece. I love being able to walk out of the gym feeling like the team really accomplished something together.
The flip side of this is I have some compassion. I know what it feels like to be on the other end. I even feel guilty at times after a 25+ point win. Some of you reading this may feel like that is showing a sign of weakness, but is it really? By running up scores, what is that truly teaching players?
Most coaches say that athletics is a tool to teach their players about life. Do we really want to teach our players that life is about degrading others? That life is about kicking a man when he is down?
I remember watching one of my wife's games a few years ago. She was in her first year as a head coach having taken over a very down program. Her team was playing one of the best teams in the conference. The opposing team was up by 60 some odd points with less than 5 minutes to go, pressing and had 3 starters still in the game. I watched the players on my wife's team and their body language after the game had finally come to an end. Those poor girls couldn't hold their head and shoulders up with the help of an industrial crane.
While I believe that coaches should not sacrifice their philosophy, I truly believe that character is more important than any gameplan or style of play.