Monday, November 12, 2012

wayward coaches

You ask people about these coaches, and they usually tell you that they are pretty nice guys, so you tend to believe them. Besides, they're our nice guys, who watch out for our kids, make sure they graduate, bail them out of jail, etc. No question, sports builds character, and a lot of time this is good: kids graduate with the memory of being on a team, being part of a winning culture, etc.

I don't actually know these guys, so I'll assume they're nice good guys, our guys, and simply wonder: why would one of them, notorious for throwing a chair and trying to strangle verious players, including his own son, wanted in Puerto Rico, be invited down here, supported, etc.? In the Puerto Rico incident, backing him up and supporting him (as they had done both at his university and his home state) meant disrespecting the law of part of the United States, as he had skipped out on jail time and a large fine, just blown them off, and still does to this day, though now he is a well-known commentator on the college basketball circuit. Or there was the TT coach who locked a kid in a closet (?) but later got work at Washington State, where he is now under investigation for similar abuse. Or there is TT himself, very popular, just lost it for a minute and ripped the headset off a graduate assistant coach, in a game last Saturday, that is the talk of the town. It's got what 700,000 hits on Youtube (as of today, Mon. afternoon)? This means that everyone in Lubbock has seen it, what, three times?

Maybe sports abuse is what passes for entertainment in the modern world.

It bothers me a little that we, the fans, seem to be complicit in it. We want a winner, we go for the best coaches, we're willing to overlook a few of their personal flaws. This town is very busy overlooking TT's flaws; he has apologized; rug-sweeping-under has started in earnest. And, maybe his crime is not as serious as those of BK or ML before him; I don't really know. I have a few questions, though, about this persistent saturation of sports violence at the top...

1. Is it possible to be a coach in modern USA media-saturated sports and not get caught up in the hype, the competition, the screaming crowds, the feeling that it all is way more important than anything on earth?

2. On balance, the point has been made that TT is milder, less abusive than some of his predecessors. Does it matter? Is violence violence, or is some of it more forgivable than others?

3. Is it possible to be a coach at a big school and not be abusive? I say this because we're obviously dealing with a difference in degree. Some coaches use verbal tricks. Some coaches are probably not domineering at all (but you don't hear about them, because they don't win)...
,br> 4. What would it take for a team to do a job search, for a great coach at a good price, and have zero tolerance for this kind of stuff? Am I dreaming?

5. I am trusting that these guys are not doing a Jerry Sandusky on their kids. Is this also out of line? Totally unrealistic? How many Jerry Sanduskys are there?

6. The Jerry Sandusky case turned up an ugly truth - that many kinds of abuse are silenced, apologized for, covered up, swept under the rug, etc., all over the oountry; that the machinery of a sports department is made to cover up this stuff; that, therefore, complaining or protesting sets you against an entire machine and the reputation of its school. This presumably is why Jerry Sandusky got away with what he did for so many years. The question is this: if this is a permanent, pervasive situation, abuse of sexual, sphysical and mental nature, to all degrees, what does that say about our college system? It could be a huge problem that this is happening under the name of the college which makes it, really, sanctioned violence, until lawsuits turn it around. 7. If it is in fact the fans who a) demand excellent coaches at any price, b) fill a stadium with noise thus giving the impression that a fourth-and-one is huge; c) have so much invested in a school and its reputation that coming out with the truth (for its victims) becomes impossible, extremely destructive to the school? And if the fans are causing trouble here that must be altered, in what way can fans change their expectations so that this doesn't keep happening?

I'm a fan, and I'd like to know.

Market Street incident, Feb. 2004

TT apologizes

Firing of Mike Leach (coach before TT)

State Farm denounced

allegations at WSU

Friday, November 2, 2012

mil here, mil there, whatever

About six years ago a guy was convicted and sent to jail for 25 years for embezzling $77 million from a local company. He was married and had three children. As a writer I have natural fascination for such people and that's where my questions come from. I mean no disrespect, and of course have never met him, I leave his name out of this so that he's a little harder to track down, though people from around here will know who I mean immediately, and if you really want to know you can read about how we trick-or-treated at the house he'd built.

So he was working for a local oil company, and was maybe an accountant, and his superior had more or less lost track, and pretty soon, what, 77 million was found in his possession? He had been buying things around town: a truck stop, a bunch of antique cars, a house that he poured millions into, etc. And nobody saw this? One guy who was working at our house said he thought he knew who we were talking about, if he hadn't been so obvious spending the money, he might have never got caught. It makes sense. But $77 million?

Then there's the question of his wife. Here they are raising three little kids. Is she in the dark about where these millions come from? Or, if she knows, does she encourage it? or cause it? After you've spent three, four, twenty million, do you wonder if this is going to go on forever? Or if maybe you deserve this good fortune? I'm kind of wondering what it does to your head, to have this kind of running faucet of free money to spend, and not really be able to hide it, or be discreet, or do the things that would keep it coming forever. Maybe a craftier way would have been, have a swiss bank account, a false identity, a second passport, whatever. It didn't seem like "crafty" was part of the picture.

Finally, I'm sure the kids have quite the inheritance, and it's six years on now. What kind of damage does that do to them? How are they feeling about their dad, or mom, or former neighbors, or whoever else was involved? Just curious because, I'm sure, it'll find its way into a novel. And that novel could be reality-based, but more likely in this case, not. I think I'd rather imagine, than in fact know the answers.