The college football world was rocked—rocked, we say!—by Illinois coach Tim Beckman's blatant violation of NCAA rules when he was caught on camera taking a dip of chewing tobacco during Saturday's game against Wisconsin. The use of any tobacco products by coaches, players and officials during practices and games is prohibited by the NCAA.
To that end, Illinois self-reported a Level 2 violation to the NCAA, according to ESPN.com, over Beckman's chewing tobacco use. There's no word on what the punishment will be, but let's just say a consent decree isn't coming into play on this one. Image of the violation below is via Big Lead Sports.
But this all seems just a little unseemly, doesn't it?
Yes, tobacco use is gross. If that's your choice in life, great, do what you like and more power to you, but it's gross. Especially smoking. Smoking is great if you want everything about you—your home, your clothes, your breath and your skin—to smell like the shag carpet of your grandpa's cigar lounge in 1974. Sexy!
That said, tobacco products like cigarettes, cigars and chaw are legal. If Beckman wants everything to taste like the inside of Dean Martin's lungs for the duration of a 17-point loss to Wisconsin, he should be able to go ahead and do that.
Tobacco use by college football coaches should be...
The common argument against allowing this type of behavior is, of course, the role model issue. If young, impressionable children see a coach dipping, won't they want to dip too? Isn't normalizing this behavior really a tacit approval of lung and mouth cancer? Will Tim Beckman's tobacco use kill your child?
But coaches using tobacco don't exist in a bubble.
Young people are subjected to significant amounts of education about the dangers of tobacco use from the time they're able to understand words. Tobacco products have warning labels that are possibly the most dire of any commonly available product in America. And that's a good thing!
That said, if all that anti-tobacco education can be negated by the sight of one 50-something football coach surreptitiously taking some dip on the sidelines, guess what? The anti-tobacco education sucks.
And that's not Tim Beckman's problem to fix. Nor is it the NCAA's.
So let Tim Beckman put that nasty crap in his mouth if he wants. It's his own gross habit. The NCAA should only be in the business of regulating gross habits if every other more important thing is taken care of, and let's be honest: That's not something the NCAA's ever going to accomplish.