Thursday, January 30, 2014

Don’t send your daughters to UConn

I took a liking to Scott Drew, men’s basketball coach at my alma mater, Baylor University, when an interviewer asked him what his expectations for the team were. His answer was surprising. He said (I paraphrase) he expected to mold good men, men of character, responsible and virtuous men. I thought at the time, If my son plays basketball, I want him to play for Scott Drew.

Drew took over the men’s basketball program at its lowest point in 2003, when a player was murdered and the coach hid NCAA rules violations by blaming them on the murdered player. At the time, Baylor needed a coach with character and humility to commit long-term to building the program up from scratch. In order to do that, he needed to establish trust with recruits and their parents. Believe it or not, athletes’ parents have a lot of say about where their kids go to school. They want to know, when considering sending their kids to Baylor, that their kids will be looked after, that the coach will treat their kids right.

Scott Drew was and is that coach. The turnaround he’s engineered at Baylor wouldn’t have been possible without earning people’s trust. Art Briles, Baylor’s football coach, has achieved a similar turnaround, but in his case the team he inherited was merely bad. By contrast, Scott Drew returned a disgraced program to viability through strong moral leadership. If he fails to prepare basketball players for success in the NBA, he will have at least molded good men for success in life.

Can the same be said for the women playing for Geno Auriemma, the uber-accomplished women’s basketball coach at UConn? You be the judge:

I don’t give a [expletive] about religion when it comes to sports. In fact, I think it’s stupid. I think everyone that goes on national television, and is asked why do you win, says ‘I want to thank God.’ Really? Like God gives a [expletive] that you made 18 jump shots. I have always had a problem with that [thinking]. I have a problem with people showing their religion in public. I have a real problem with that. And I don’t care what religion it is.

If you believe Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross cleared your path to eternal salvation and God authored the universe, in addition to putting you in a setting to perform and excel and be celebrated for your talent, the glory belongs to Him. “Thank you, Jesus,” should be the first words to come out of your mouth. Witness.

And it’s funny. When I was in high school, we prayed before every game. And we prayed after every game. That’s part of the school you are at, part the religious experience of going to a Catholic school. I get that. I did that. I was all in favor of it. And, if I coached at a Catholic high school right now, I’d be doing the same thing.

But ever since I left high school, and ever since I have been a head coach, I don’t pay any mind to that stuff. We don’t pray in the locker room. We don’t pray in the hotel room, pregame, or after a game. If you asked me the religion of my players, I would say I have no idea. I really don’t care. It’s none of my business.

I presume he doesn’t care about his players’ sexual preferences, either? Of course not. No one pays any mind to that stuff.

This tirade says more about how Auriemma looks at people than his (lack of?) faith. Even a non-believer could find it in himself to connect with his players on a non-basketball plane—you know, as women. How comforting it must be to those parents, knowing their daughters’ coach thinks of them as basketball players, first and only.

The secular powers reign supreme in New England. Don’t send your daughters to UConn.

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