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Coaching tantrums send poor message


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Coaches expect our young student-athletes to conduct their business with the greatest amount of integrity.

Then we watch basketball coaches act like idiots during games. OK, it’s basketball season. Baseball managers, at the major-league level, can be pretty bad as well.

Yes, if you are the basketball coach screaming at the officials for every tiny call that goes against you, jumping up and down like a toddler and trying to work up the crowd, this is for you.

If this offends you ... good. I do apologize to the many coaches who conduct themselves in a professional manner. The ones who don’t, you know who you are.

Let’s put this in television terms. I am talking Gregory House jerkdom. Simon Cowell idiocy. For those who have lived a little, Archie Bunker asinineness.

Enough, please, unless you are trying to land a role on a sitcom.

At the high school level, I know our local athletic directors look for coaches who will be role models for the students. In general, especially in this area, it seems they have done a good job.

However, a coach who emphasizes academics, teamwork, fair play and a great work ethic seems to have a get-out-of-jail-free card when it comes to acting poorly during games. Does this have something to do with Bobby Knight worship? I don’t know. But so much for setting a good example for the kids.

I’m not saying that a coach can’t be tough. As a whole, my experience lends me to believe that we could use even a little more discipline than less. I don’t necessarily feel it is a bad thing for a coach to present displeasure in a barking fashion. But there is a time and place, and embarrassing a student when he or she leaves the basketball court is not the right time for that, either.

Screaming at officials has nothing to do with toughness. It’s just plain stupid.

If you are a student on the bench or younger family members and friends in the stands, and you see the coach go into a Tony Soprano temper tantrum every time a call goes the other way, what does that say?

Coaches who can design an effective game plan should be smart enough to answer that one.

Some don’t seem to be able to understand a very simple concept. There is no rule that says that both teams must have the same number of fouls when a game is finished. (Note to athletic directors, cut out the previous sentence and paste in the office.)

There is a simple reason. Your guys are fouling more than their guys.

Another main point. You aren’t going to get a “make-up call” because your insults have shamed the official into taking your side. If you do, indeed, have a bad official, it’s more likely that he or she simply made another bad call, although on the other end.

Of the many high school basketball games I have watched this season, I have seen several coaches received technical fouls for losing control of their emotions. A player who draws a technical is likely to receive a long lecture about putting himself/herself in front of the team and probably a lot of push-ups. A coach’s punishment should be more severe.

It should be noted that we are fighting history here. If you watched MLB managers such as Bobby Cox and Lou Piniella get into slobbering, raving, dirt-kicking stinkfits with umpires, you might have learned to view it as more comical than damaging. Knight, of course, was a hero. At the high school level, though, this kind of behavior should not be tolerated.

So what can be done? Glad you asked.

The Indiana High School Athletic Association needs to instruct officials to stop tolerating bad behavior by coaches. Have a quicker trigger finger on technical fouls and start ejecting offenders. Start today.

It’s going to create a better atmosphere for student-athletes. If they miss that kind of action, they can play video games.

Jay Heater is The Republic sports editor. He can be reached at jheater@therepublic.com or 379-5632.

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