Sunday, March 24, 2013

Coaches as deities

It's human nature to desire heroes and heroines. The needs of those seeking larger-than-life inspiration are met by such.

But lately there sure have been a lot of athletes across the sports spectrum being exposed as possessing feet of clay, or worse. But that's another subject, another day.

We seek the same thing in pedestal-ing coaches as tributes are paid in most every broadcast and gazillions of words have been written about those especially with the most wins.

Becayse they are considered the successful ones.

But let's take a minute and examine this element.

Why is it always the ones who win the most who are elevated into this Olympus pantheon?

If you disagree, then why can't the most observant of college fans identify a list of coaches whose players graduate at the highest percentage? Additionally, nobody in the stands or in front of a television knows who are really the best teachers of the craft, a critical element since instructing is the North Star of such a skills set.

However, the idea of the winners being icons of their profession is undercut by a simple law of our human universe: them with the gold, rule.

Leaders with the best collections of talent should win far, far more games than they lose -- that's the how and why of collecting Ws. Those with the largest amount of resources at their disposal should succeed the most.

So if such is the expectation, why is the fulfillment of the prophecy so heralded?

It's not as if these individuals have necessarily conjured up any proprietary magic formulas.

Besides the top teachers and graduators, there are also coaches at all levels who are succeeding in wins versus losses minus any sort of Fort Knox availability. Plus, there are those who are underwater in court successes but still top shelf in preparing their players for a basketball afterlife.

That's what makes the achievements of someone like Butler's Brad Stevens all the more remarkable (here we go with that hero worshiping thing again). He doesn't have a budget that provides for national recruiting nor are his recruiting classes ever listed in anyone's Top 10 or 20. But he succeeds in all measurements at such a high level anyway.

Another example: look at what Louisiana Tech Coach Mike White has accomplished in just two seasons! Ruston isn't LA or Tobacco Road, his budget is miniscule compared to a majority of his competitors and nobody has won consistently there pre-White.

A quote from the James Stewart film "Harvey" is a great way to end this piece. It's from a psychiatrist character emoting about his time wasted on small matters while overlooking the big picture:
Dr. Chumley: Fly specks, fly specks! I've been spending my life among fly specks while miracles have been leaning on lampposts at 18th and Fairfax!
So do not fully judge a coach by his Ws and Ls but evaluate by what he/she achieves across the spectrum with his Jimmy-and-Joe charges. Ultimately, the latter is the most important for all of us.


Pertaining to this subject,  David Roth writes about "The Cult of the Coach"

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