I feel very strongly about amateur and youth sports.
For much of the last 20 years, I have been involved in youth or amateur athletics in one capacity or another. I coached all three of my daughters and my two sons in basketball and baseball, respectively. After high school, I got to become a teammate of my oldest son in a men’s baseball league, and the number one fan for both my daughters on the court as they continued their hoop dreams as women basketball players at our local community college (GO NORTHAMPTON LADY SPARTANS!!!!).
Sports have been a very important part of my children’s lives, and we have been on all ends of the spectrum. At one point or another we have gone through them being the best player on a team, to being a bench h warmer, to feeling overlooked and not even making a squad. This year, my youngest daughter realized that sports were not for her, and at the age of 13, gave up basketball to pursue her passions for the arts. This proud papa will soon be watching her in this year’s middle school play.
Needless to say, I have seen the all the good that comes along with youth sports, even into the college level. Unfortunately, I have also seen the bad.
Many coaches along the way seem to forget that they are helping to mold young people every bit as much, if not more, than just teaching them how to excel at a sport. I have seen coaches of amateur athletes totally forget that they aren’t coaching professionals. It’s made me really wonder if I even want my youngest son to play sports.
And now we have another College Basketball scandal, and, to make a long story short, it looks like it is going to cost Hall of Fame Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino his job.
It’s about time.
I know that big time, NCAA basketball at the division one level is considered by many to be a minor league system for the NBA, but technically, this is still supposed to be an amateur sport, and Rick Pitino was trusted with assisting in the guidance of young men as the enter the real world. While Louisville has indeed become a basketball powerhouse under Pitino, there have been only seven first round NBA picks during his 17 year tenure at the school. In other words, while there are a good number of Louisville players with professional hoop dreams, there also are a much greater number who really are students first, and athletes second.
Rick Pitino is the epitome of everything that is wrong with college basketball, and amateur sports in general. He’s made the Louisville basketball program a winner, and by doing so, also made the program all about him. Even after numerous scandals that range from having an affair with a school employee’s wife, to last year’s scandal of paying prostitutes to show recruits “a good time”, to his confrontation and threatening of a UNC fan, Rick Pitino has long forgotten the fact that he’s supposed to be as much a mentor, as a basketball coach. Maybe in the climate of big time college basketball that doesn’t matter any more, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t, and a person like Rick Pitino isn’t qualified to mentor anyone.
This newest college basketball scandal looks like its going to be a big one. The more we learn, I’m sure this is going to bring about a lot of change in the sport. While I’m usually not one to judge, and don’t feel comfortable calling for somebody to get fired, it’s hard for me not to sit here and think that the sport of college basketball has now rid itself of one of it’s worst cancers.
In other words, good riddance Rick Pitino. This was most deserved, and long overdue.