A whirling dervish – but, a role model?

Mar. 01, 2014 @ 09:29 PM

On Feb. 23, the Syracuse basketball team came down to Durham to play Duke. 

With less than 20  seconds left in the game, Duke was leading, 60 to 58.  Syracuse had the ball.  With only 10.5 seconds left,  the Syracuse forward, C. J. Fair, drove in for the basket.   He collided with Duke player Rodney Hood.  A referee blew a whistle, and for a few brief seconds, many fans held their breath.  Was it a charge against Syracuse or a block by Duke?  A referee ruled it was a charge by Syracuse.

The reaction by Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim was instantaneous.  He jumped up from the Bench and darted around the basketball court, lurching towards two of the referees, whirling around and gesticulating, objecting to the call, mouthing cuss words.  He would not stop.  He thought the referee's call was "the worst call of the year.”

Boeheim's extraordinary and prolonged outburst resulted in Duke being awarded two technical fouls in addition to the normal foul shots for charging.  With only 10.5 seconds left, Syracuse could not possibly win.  The game was over.  Duke won.

Boeheim was ejected from the game.  Two police officers escorted him away.

Wow!   I have seen a lot of anger in the courtroom, but Boeheim's exhibition takes the cake!   He was a whirling dervish.  However, I give him credit, for he did not assault or bump the referees.  His actions were wild and excessive, but he did not do anything that would injure anyone.  Once the officers came up to him, he calmed down quickly.

This will be remembered for years to come.

There are several things we can learn from his actions.

First, it showed that he is in good physical shape.  He stretched up, whirled around, darted back and forth like a jackrabbit. -- and did things that would make a physical therapist proud.

Second, it gave a clue to his coaching technique.  We can assume that his technique is much like football coach Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers -- coaching with unrelenting vigor -- body and soul, dedicated to winning.  We can see why Syracuse was the number-one basketball team in the country.

Third, it is understandable that coaches will lose their temper.   Their motivation is winning.  However, they are also leaders of young people.  They should also be role models -- showing kindness and compassion.  They should bring honor to the sport.

Yes, this is hard.  In the excitement of a game, tensions are high.  Explosive moments will happen.  Yet coaches should rise above the behavior that Boeheim exhibited.

The overpowering desire to win is one of the things that have caused college sports to become over-emphasized in our universities.  The structure of many universities is topsy-turvy.  College football and basketball coaches are paid more than the schools' presidents.

It is out of hand.

Bobby Knight was basketball coach at Indiana.  Even though his behavior was aggressive and unruly he was allowed to remain as coach from 1971 to 2000.   He once threw a chair out across the basketball court.  Why was he allowed to continue to coach?  Simple.  Because winning trumped the real purpose of universities.   The purpose is to teach students how to behave, to learn the ways of peace, to accomplish things by the use of intellect.

Our educational system is failing to perform this duty.  This is shown by the behavior of a group of governors on Feb. 25.   After a meeting with president Obama they had a press conference outside the White House – and erupted into a partisan and impolite dispute.

My point can be illustrated by the following story.

Two men were watching a football game.  When it was over, one of the men jumped up and exclaimed,  "WE ARE NUMBER ONE!  WE ARE NUMBER ONE!"

Whereupon the other man responded by asking,  "What is wrong with being number two?"

Stanley Peele is  retired judge.