Thanksgiving 2012 has come and gone, the fall decorations have been put away and the Christmas ones are now out.
More importantly, the rivalry football games have now mostly been played and the postseason picture is becoming a little clearer.
While these games feature much in strategy, skill and bravado, they also sadly seem to lack any air of civility, and we find that troubling. What is more disconcerting, however, is that we see the coaches as the primary motivators of this behavior.
Certainly these men are under a great deal of pressure and we understand that. They do too. It is common knowledge that successful football (primarily) and basketball programs are the engine that fund entire collegiate sport budgets. Success is mandatory at the college level. As they say, failure is not an option. These coaches are usually the highest paid employees (by a lot) of the institutions that they represent and with additional income from camps, television shows and equipment manufacturers, they can readily accumulate great wealth. Visibility is huge in their efforts to sustain and recruit to their programs. Even at this early date some 12 Division I coaches have already been told that their services are not required beyond season’s end. They have been fired.
We find it disappointing, however, that some of these coaches choose to exhibit behavior that is less than what a civilized society should expect. Turn on the television and witness any number of them making fools of themselves while berating their players, officials and game administrators during the action.
In what many may construe as insignificant, University of Michigan football coach Brady Hoke chose not to shake the hand of victorious Ohio State coach Urban Meyer after last Saturday’s defeat. He considers it a nonstory and offered up some lame excuse about how it’s “kind of hard seeing anybody after a game.” It was a totally classless act that we note he does not repeat when he wins. Many would put this slight in the category with the silly name games that both teams play when they refer to one school as “Ohio” and the other as “the school up north.”
Big game? Sure! Tough loss? You bet! But we should demand more — sportsmanship.
Sportsmanship should not have boundaries. Players live, eat and breathe with their coaches for what now has become year-round activity. They look at coaches as leaders, surrogate parents and the ultimate example in life. Many of those players will come to emulate the examples of their coaches in later years. Alumni and fans play off the coach’s lead and the kids watching the game are impressionable. Administrators should make absolutely clear the idea that coaches are an extension of the faculty of their institutions and the behavior they choose to exhibit reflects on that institution and its ideals.
Sports in general and football in particular provide many values that translate throughout life’s spectrum. Lessons in hard work, goal setting and teamwork manifest themselves in endeavors far removed from the playing field. We think the ultimate values taught, however, come from the codes of sportsmanship that maybe only a competitor can understand. Respecting ones opponent is the ultimate compliment to both.
Coach Hoke, shake on it.
Editorial opinions are the consensus of The Daily News editorial board.