Saturday, March 12, 2011

Pressure on Coaches

This morning on my ride home from work I was listening to a sports talk radio program and one of the hosts was arguing that it should be taken into account the pressure college coaches are under to win before coming down so harshly on Jim Tressel. He stated that in a vacuum it is easy to say that what Tressel did was wrong but if you look at it from the stand point of what all Tressel had to think about then it wasn't so bad. Tressel had to think of how it would cost the school a possible national championship run, how it might cost the rest of the team that had done nothing, how it might everyone outside those players. He said that basically because of all that Tressel should have done what he did because the ends would have justified the means if Ohio State had won the national title.
By this same argument does that mean that a high school coach who counts on his salary to feed his kid that is head coach of a program that hasn't won much and is at risk for getting fired should start cutting corners. Maybe have a few practices during times that he isn't allowed. That is harmless right? Maybe then he starts to talk to some of the teachers to get them to bump up a few players grades to keep them eligible. Maybe he hears about some of the players starting to buy steroids and just looks the other way. Doesn't the ends justify the means? Tressel would just be protecting a football program that makes millions, and keeping his job because no way he could find another job to keep his family fed. no way he would find another job with a national title on his resume. But that coach at a small high school that's family barely gets by on his salary and has several kids and a wife to take care of. That is real pressure. Would you expect him to take cut corners? Would we as parents be ok with it if he knew our son was doing steroids and just looked the other way?
Does what Tressel did make him a terrible person? No, not at all. Is it something that we should just brush off because of the mitigating factors surrounding it? Absolutely not. College coaches are paid millions of dollars because it is a high pressure job. It is part of the job description. Tressel knew the rules, knowingly broke them, and should be held to a much higher standard than the players who play for him.

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