I’d like to talk a lot about practice or the overall merit of it; not that I think it’ll have too much correlation with how Cal performs this season. But of course the usual rules are in effect–practice is closed except to a few beat reporters like Okanes from the Contra Costa Times and Andrew Kim from the Daily Cal. So my opinions of our team practice and play will be severely limited at the moment. I know it’s frustrating to pass by Memorial Stadium every few days and not be able to catch a glimpse of what’s happening inside.
It is always a struggle for a leader to decide how much of his strategy and decision-making should be made public. All too often the secretive side wins, a Cold War mentality emerges of what information should be concealed. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
On the flip side, there is the ability for some to release themselves from that burden, to liberate themselves from the worries of control and spin. Giving the public glimpses of the possibilities of perfection has been all some fanbases have needed to feel at ease about the upcoming season and whatever result presents itself. USC has held open practices for years, as had Florida, as has LSU, as has Texas. Who’s won the last four titles? The Trojans lost to Stanford, lost to Oregon, yet came right back and charged the gauntlet in their final five games. The confidence was not only internal but external.
I think the future is in openness, especially at the amateur level. Openness makes fans amenable. In college, fans exist like a support group, a camraderie of fellow students and past alum hoping desperately for their teams to succeed. Opening up the spirit of the team gives them a close-up look of and it makes them feel like they’re involved in the process.
More importantly, openness would relieve pressure on a team nursing high expectations. Last year’s team felt the pressure of the closed environment, internalized the issues and did not come together when adversity stared them in the face. Openness eases that burden; closure reinforces it.
That being said, I don’t think it’ll have that much of an impact come kickoff time this year. We’re entering a tabula rasa season, where nothing is to be expected or anticipated. Our players are not as talented at first glance and definitely not as heralded, so we’re starting anew with the hopes that our new team will grow and hopefully stumble into the grand prizes our fans so desire.
The question is, when Cal is again in a position to challenge for great things, will we open the doors to what’s ahead for us or lock them to keep anyone else from seeing it?
Leave your thoughts on open/closed practice in the comments.