I don't normally like to talk about off the field situations in sports, because I believe ESPN over analyzes them to death, but I had some thoughts to share on the Mike Leach/Mark Mangino troubles currently unfolding.
I believe this is the start to what will be a continuing trend in college sports, the first of many to come. This disturbs me. It feels like a power struggle between players and coaches. The Mark Mangino situation gave student athletes everywhere the feeling that they have the power to produce action on their coach. We've already had a second instance only a few weeks later now with Mike Leach getting suspended by Texas Tech. These are two high profile coaches that have now been accused of wrongdoing by players and will face severe consequences because of it.
I can't really remember another coach being fired by how he is treating his kids before this. All the power to this point has been with the coaches. Now is it a bad thing that the players now have something of a voice in the matter? Yes and no. I do believe it's unfair for them not to have any say, but its also putting power into kids' hands. Kids (along with their parents) are looking out mostly for themselves. There are reasons this is not the typical practice when delegating power. Kids are more likely to abuse that power to what they think will help their situation. My main concern is the question of what is stopping a kid, or group of kids, to expand on a minor incident to make a coach that isn't giving them any playing time look bad? And how many kids that aren't playing would agree with the coach's decision of who is playing? There are too many players, and not enough PT to keep everyone satisfied.
Now I'm not saying that I think Mangino or Leach is in the right or the wrong. I don't know exactly what happened in either situation, nor do I in any locker room or practice field across the country, which makes it nearly impossible to take a side on the issue. What I am saying is that the student athletes now have the power to take advantage of an overreacting, overprotective, hypersensitive society (which stems from the media). Without the tabloids of ESPN being on 24/7 "News" coverage, neither of these instances occur.
This brings us back to the Mike Leach situation. The kid that made the accusations is Adam James, son of ESPN/ABC game commentator, Craig James. This brings us full circle to the issue at hand, power. Does any of this occur if Craig James doesn't have a voice (his job) and the power that comes with it (speaking to the nation without debate)? I say no. Texas Tech does not want to go head-to-head with the most powerful sports network over this situation. They wouldn't stand a chance, leaving them little choice and forcing their hand into suspending Leach.
This makes it sound like Craig James is now committing an abuse of power in the situation, which I would tentatively agree with (with what we know). So, the real question may be: Can we trust anybody with power? Will power always lead to corruption? I'd like to think not, but see little evidence to support my hope.
Power? None for me, thanks.