Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bobby Knight Strikes Again

While at Sports Clips yesterday, I watched ESPN for a while after not having seen it in....well, since the last time a kid needed a haircut, and whose mug was front and center? Bobby Knight.

Bobby was at it again. I watched the clip and here's my interpretation:

The kid, a tall forward, second-stringer gets out of position on a rebound and goes over the back. A foul is called. The kid hangs his head in shame as Knight calls a time-out. Knight is on the warpath. The reason? Not that the kid made an error, but that the kid didn't pull himself together after the mistake and hung his head in shame. Bobby yelled at him, "Look me in the eyes!!!" When the kid didn't, he shoved the kid's head up via his chin and got his attention.

So, the Clouthier household is divided. Can you guess which way this goes? The hubby says that Knight has an anger management problem, he should never touch a kid and that the bigger message he teaches the boys is to "lose it".

I disagree. I played for an "animated" basketball coach. A whole new rule was made in Michigan High School basketball for him--a coaches "box" about five feet by ten feet long. Stepping out of the box netted the coach a Technical foul. Well, our coach laid in the box, stomped in the box, threw things in the box, kicked chairs in the box. Most of all, he screamed in the box. And yes, when we did stupid things (he never punished physical errors), mental errors, we paid. He would physically put our body into position. He would make us run until we thought we would die. I've thrown more free-throws.... But I digress.

We were a championship team nearly every year no matter how rag-tag the talent. I can assure you, winning surpassed hurt feelings. He expected the impossible from us. Imagine our surprise when we delivered. There were other teams who had "nicer" coaches I suppose, but they didn't win much. Our team always won. We had a six year at home winning streak. No one beat us in our house. No one.

Not only that, but coach made us tough girls dress in dresses (and high heels) on game day while carrying a basketball. I kid you not. He bought us tear-away sweat-suits back in the day when only the guys teams had them. He was so tough with us we never feared an opponent. We did fear, screwing up, not following the plan. Our scrimmages were death matches.

Bobby Knight is cast in this passionate mold. He's not a touchy-feely guy. Isiah Thomas played for him. Isiah's mom wanted him to have an authoritarian father figure. I think more guys need an authoritative man in their life.

I'm torn. While I don't think a player should fear for his physical safety from a coach, I think our society has turned into a bunch of pansy-ass wimps. Sometimes life is tough and you need to soldier through, gut it up. How do you teach that to a kid if everything is smooth and easy and wrapped in honey?

I know what Bobby Knight's after. Winning is nice, but he knows that that kid hanging his head is going to end up in a world where he's going to have to persevere, get back in the game mentally, after he's screwed up. That's life. When he screams, "LOOK AT ME!!!!" He is telling teaching the kid to stand tall and proud--even when making a mistake.

When I read recently that the Army was not being so mean to recruits (and I'm not talking abuse) and being more encouraging and kinder and gentler, it caused me to pause. The enemy won't be nice. The enemy is brutal. How do you get mentally tough with out some metal-testing before the real deal?

We don't need an Army of sissies. We need an Army of tough-minded winners. Heck, we need an society of tough-minded winners.

In my view, the world could use a few more Bobby Knights.


Anonymous said...

A fight to the death between a yapping, vibrating, pee-all-over-the-floor lapdog and a wild jackal fresh off the Arabian desert howling "ALLAHU AKBAR!" can have only one outcome.

Dr. Steve said...

my opinion has been mischaracterized. What I believe is that someone who has anger or emotional control problems should lead by example and correct their issues before expecting a 18/19 year young adult to become emotionally mature in a basketball huddle.

Anonymous said...

Its interesting that back in the day none of the parents had a problem with this particular coach. I wonder how that would go over today.....

Anonymous said...

My husband was in the Marines and it was an over all good and positive experience for him. However, he has a studdering issue and was already very much on edge. BootCamp was a nightmare for him because of all the screaming they did and being right in your face kind of thing.

I can see both sides of this.