Image via WikipediaBeing as how I have no great interest in sports whatsoever, I generally don't blog about them in any way, shape, or form however there has been a story in the news here in Connecticut recently that I just have to weigh my two cents in on as the whole thing just frosts my pumpkin to no end for the simple reason that it shows just how completely and totally screwed up our priorities are becoming in this country of ours.
The controversy centers around some comments made at a press conference last Saturday by University of Connecticut head basketball coach Jim Calhoun when questioned about his salary by a freelance journalist and political activist. Ken Krayeske questioned Coach Calhoun at a news conference following UConn's win over South Florida and asked why the coach of a public university collects a salary of $1.6 million when the state has a budget deficit of more than $1 billion this fiscal year and up to $8.7 billion over the next two fiscal years.
It's been reported that initially Calhoun replied with a joke but then got quite agitated and laid into Krayeske when he continued to question him. "My best advice to you is, shut up," Calhoun said. "Quite frankly, we bring in $12 million to the university, nothing to do with state funds," Calhoun continued. "We make $12 million a year for this university. Get some facts and come back and see me ... Don't throw out salaries and other things." There was apparently a lot more said (or was that shouted?) but that's the main gist of the thing.
Since then, Governor M. Jodi Rell has called Calhoun's tirade an "embarrassing display" and two other Connecticut lawmakers, who head up the Connecticut General Assembly's higher education committee, have called for him to be reprimanded. Even though they say they are proud of his achievements as head coach at UConn, Senator Mary Ann Handley, D-Manchester, and Representative Roberta Willis, D-Lakeville, said that Calhoun's outburst does not reflect well on him or the University of Connecticut. In a letter to UConn President Michael J. Hogan, they wrote -
"His recent behavior was unacceptable and we request that the university take appropriate disciplinary action to reinforce the high ethical standards we have come to expect from our flagship institution; ... with increased success and recognition comes increased responsibility. Coach Calhoun's actions were not in keeping with the high ethical standards that we expect from a representative of the University of Connecticut."Honestly ... I've got to agree with them. As I said, I don't follow sports and I don't give a rat's behind whether the UConn Huskies have a winning season or not as it's not going to matter one iota in my life but I do care whether or not someone who is supposed to represent a state institution can handle himself appropriately and with decorum; especially when that person is the highest paid state employee in the entirety of Connecticut.
Personally I think that most sports figures are paid entirely way too much and find it very sad that someone who can catch a football or hit a baseball makes more money than a brain surgeon or cancer specialist or someone of that ilk. Just because you have some athletic prowess does not make you a god or goddess or someone who is going to change the world and there's certainly no need to act like you're better than everyone else. That's not to say that all professional athletes do but there are an awful lot that do fall into that mold and are certainly not the type of role models I would choose for my children or grandchildren.
As someone who is quite frequently in the spotlight and asked tough questions, Coach Calhoun should by now be quite adept at sidestepping questions he doesn't want to answer. Instead of telling Krayeske to "shut up" he could have simply chosen to ignore him or perhaps have replied by telling him that the current setting was not one appropriate to that line of questioning and suggesting that they speak at a later date.
It is never ever acceptable for someone of Calhoun's position to act like he did but judging by some of the comments left in the story chat portion of the Norwich Bulletin's article on the situation, it appears that a lot of people think that what he did was perfectly fine and he should be making more than 1.6 million dollars a year coaching the Huskies because they have a great winning record and they're currently Number 2 in the nation.
Yeah? So? And that gives Calhoun the right to be rude? That gives him the go-ahead as the highest paid employee in the state to shout at someone who is asking questions he doesn't like? If the man wants to be an arrogant jackass on the basketball court that's fine - there are a lot of coaches who have adapted that particular style and even throw a chair or two when things don't go their way - but when you're standing in front of the press with cameras rolling, microphones recording, and people writing down everything you say then you have the responsibility of being a good representative of not only the University of Connecticut but the entire State of Connecticut. End of story.
I'm not exactly sure when it started but people have become ruder and ruder with each other and it's getting out of hand. You ought to see some of the comments in The Bulletin's story chat sections where people do nothing but throw insults at each other without thinking twice about what they're saying or who they are saying it, too. It's sad, it's pathetic, and it's a sorry society that our children are being raised in but it seems to be quite alright with a lot of people as long as their teams continue to win games or their opinions get expressed no matter whom they offend or possibly hurt.
The right thing for Coach Jim Calhoun to do would be to apologize and then watch his temper at future press conferences but I'd be willing to bet that doesn't happen. Worse yet, I'd be willing to bet that if you were to take a poll, the majority of people in Connecticut would say he did nothing wrong because he wins games for the University. To which again I say big deal as I think manners and simple respect between people is more important than how many basketball games a team wins. I guess I'm a bit old-fashioned in that respect.