Should Coaches Be Allowed to Berate Players Mercilessly? [POLL]
Playing competitive sports is not suited for the meek, timid, or thin-skinned. I get that. But, should coaches be allowed to berate players mercilessly without any sense of accountability?
Professional and collegiate sports seems to be one of the few workplaces in America where it's okay to yell, scream, curse, and demean subordinates. It's been that way for years - and probably will be for years to come - unless, that is, there is a change of culture. And who is to say that couldn't happen.
Although I'm certainly not on the bandwagon to change the name of the Washington Redskins, the fact is, times have changed, as has our culture and society. What was acceptable decades ago is now being deemed unacceptable, and what looked quite improbable a few years ago, now looks inevitable. Could the same sort of change happen in regards to how coaches treat and talk to their athletes?
While I'm sure he's not the first, the only, or the last coach to give his players an angry, profanity laced, degrading, and disrespectful tongue lashing, Keith Armstrong, a coach with the Atlanta Falcons certainly brings the issue to the surface.
On Tuesday's episode of HBO's Hard Knocks, Armstrong is seen giving his players such a thrashing.
"Who do you think you are? The game don’t mean enough to you, and that’s very f - -g apparent.You better wake up and get your pride in the game. Go out there and play like s–t? The s–t was coached the right way! I don’t want any excuses, selfish ass. What the hell is this? Look at this crap. Are you kidding me?”
- Keith Armstrong
And there is more.
“You do what I tell you to do. You understand, Smith? You ain’t good enough to be an asshole. Do you understand that? Do you understand that? Do you start on defense? No. So what you going to do, sit your ass on the sidelines and watch the g- -d-m game? We got enough people around here doing that s–t. "
It's like it is not okay for Richie Incognito to use profane language toward Jonathan Martin, but it appears to be okay for coaches to talk like this to their players. What is wrong with this picture? Is the NFL okay with this? Certainly HBO is okay with it because it makes for compelling television - and it is no doubt an accurate portrayal of what goes on in locker rooms and practice fields across the country.
This is the ugly side of the NFL - a side that as a fan I don't want to see, and would like to think is the exception rather than the norm. As hard as the NFL works to keep up a shiny image, and making sure players are not disgracing the "shield", it is inconceivable to me that the NFL would just turn the other way and accept this type of behavior as normal and decent.
I know coaches are going to yell at players. That will never change. But,there is a point where yelling crosses the line between acceptable and unacceptable. Behavior that is demeaning, disrespectful, and profane should not be allowed in any workplace --whether the employee is earning $9 an hour, or $900,000 per year. The fact that athletes make a lot of money should not de-humanize them or make them somehow subject to behavior that in most fabrics of society is deemed completely unacceptable and inappropriate.
Unfortunately, this type of behavior doesn't occur only at the college and pro levels. It's happening in our high schools, in a variety of sports. Check out this audio of a high school baseball coach(Kim Brooks at La Mirada High) who earlier this year went on a profanity laced tirade toward his players following a loss, and was ultimately suspended.
These coaches think they are "big time" and are trying to act like what they are doing is such a big deal. When the reality is, they aren't "big time", and they are a big deal only in their own minds.The problem is, they are learning it from watching the "big" boys in levels above them. If there is going to be change, it has to start at the top and trickle down.
All athletes have the right to be treated with respect.