This is Diana Nyad for KCRW, and this is The Score.
Long-time basketball coach at Temple University in Philadelphia, John Chaney has been known to some as intensely passionate, to others as borderline inappropriate in his volatility. Coach Chaney, for example, has in the past choked an opposing coach. He-s threatened another with finding a baseball bat to whack his players. But this time, all parties recognized that Coach Chaney clearly and egregiously crossed the line of fair play. Last week he sent in what he called his -goon- to keep opponent Saint Joseph from committing what he considered illegal screen plays. He instructed 6- 8-, 250-lb Nehemiah Ingram to throw some hard-hitting fouls to keep those supposedly illegal screens at bay. Well, Ingram followed his orders well and slammed into St. Joseph-s John Bryant so hard that he broke his arm.
A Sports Illustrated columnist suggests that the vitriolic Bobby Knight would be forever banned from the sport for such thuggish action. Other commentators defend Chaney as a loveable if tempestuous character. They plead he should be forgiven for this one, whopping transgression. With three regular season games remaining after the broken arm incident, Coach Chaney immediately removed himself from coaching the first one. Temple University removed him from the last two. Then, this week, Chaney took it upon himself to bow out of coaching the post-season Atlantic-10 Tournament, saying it-s only just that he miss as many games as John Bryant will have to miss. Eye for an eye? But what about the fact that the coach will be out on the floor again, raging again. Meanwhile, John Bryant has been robbed of experiencing the last few games of his senior season. Precious memories have been unfairly taken from him.
Is it perfectly OK that John Chaney step right back onto the hardwood next fall and continue to rant and rave and lose control--and spew out sincere apologies--as he has done consistently over the past twenty years?
This week, Tuesday, was National Sportsmanship Day. An essay contest is run by the Institute of International Sport and this year some one thousand entries came in. I was reading through them and noted that almost each one connects sportsmanship with respect. You respect yourself, which prompts your impulse to put your best self into the competition. You respect your opponent, your teammates, your coach, the refs, and the crowd. A business student at Adelphi University in Garden City, New Jersey, Paul Grafer, won the university division of the contest. Grafer wrote: -When you make conscious decisions, rooted in your belief of the value of all human beings, you will experience and exhibit good sportsmanship.-
Let-s use that phrase as our barometer in judging John Chaney. Even before the game began, Chaney used his phrase -I-m going to send in some goons.- This was a conscious, pre-meditated, if you will, act. He held no value whatsoever for the opposing players. Just as John McEnroe held no respect for his opponent when he threw long tantrums and broke the rhythm of the match as his emotions ran wild. Just as Randy Moss held no respect for the fans or his own teammates when he fake mooned the crowd in the end zone.
Finally, tournament referees caught on to McEnroe-s shenanigans and imposed point penalties to stop his tirades. Finally, the Minnesota Vikings got fed up with Randy Moss- unsportsmanlike conduct. No matter his genius at catching a football, his boorishness got him the boot.
And finally, after putting up with two decades of ill behavior on the part of their head basketball coach, Temple University should stand up for their players, their fans, and the raison d-etre of college sports and make a bold sportsmanship statement. They should send Coach Chaney on his way and wish him luck in managing his anger elsewhere.
This is Diana Nyad for KCRW, and that-s The Score.