MIke Leach Is Missing the Point

Joe MContributor IJanuary 1, 2010

AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 19:  Head coach Mike Leach of the Texas Tech Red Raiders during play against the Texas Longhorns at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 19, 2009 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Mike Leach is the latest example of a troubled sports mindset in America. It is time for him to go away.

He needs to just crawl under a rock and hide for a little while. He has made his statements about how it was a nice area where he kept Adam James, and we might have believed him. That is, until Leach released a video showing the area where he kept the college sophomore.

He locked a student athlete up like he was some sort of barn animal because he was not sure if the kid was actually injured. Never mind the fact that Leach is a coach, not a doctor.

Of course, there are also the remarks of other current players essentially saying that Leach is a bully.

Then on New Years Eve, the coach came out with the beautiful interview where he quoted a doctor saying how putting the concussed James in a shed did not endanger him even if the kid was injured.

I get that Leach thinks the kid was faking a concussion. But that is not Leach’s decision. The doctors said that he did, and that should have been good enough for Leach and his staff.

Furthermore, it doesn't matter if you put him in danger, putting a kid in a shed because of an injury is just wrong. There is nothing more needed to be known.

To be fair, the guilt doesn't lie completely with Leach. In America, we have taken the whole warrior mentality for athletics too far. It is a useful metaphor as long as it doesn’t cause us to lose sight of what college athletics are actually about.

I realized this the other day as I was listening to the post-game interview on one of the bowl games.

The winning coach talked about his kids being warriors and how they battled during the game. Then he said the only truthful statement of his interview: "They put on quite a show tonight."

That is the truth of it. College football is entertainment. Coaches are not training kids to go to war. They are making entertainers. They are getting rich while the kids make next to nothing.

Ideally, the kids learn some life principles and get a decent education in the process. Of course, there’s a few too many stories out there (FSU anyone?) that cause me to doubt even that most basic tenet of college athletics.

The metaphor of warrior has gone on for too long.

It has enabled men like Leach to actually think that putting someone in a shed is an acceptable behavior because it could teach them discipline or some other sort of warrior mentality. Leach has confused the position of coach with that of a drill sergeant.

Listen to your local talk radio, if it is like mine, you will hear “war stories” about atrocities high school coaches could inflict on kids in the “good ole’ days” of yesteryear. Anyone who would dare to not play and subject themselves to what the all mighty coach wanted to do was and is somehow less of a man.

We feed our young players lies from the time they start playing as little four and five year olds. We tell them that what they're doing is going to matter beyond them. We make it into some sort of mythological tale. Of course, it's just a tale.

Don't believe me? Then you never played high school athletics. Why is it cliche for the guy who has not done anything as an adult to always fall back into telling stories about his high school days? Because he was sold a lie.

Like medicine that is helpful when taken in appropriate doses but dangerous when used in excess, this metaphor/lie is tearing at the very fabric of the values our sports are supposed to be teaching. 

Mike Leatch’s actions are just one more example of how dangerous this metaphor actually is and the danger it can cause if left to go unchecked.