Saturday, February 28, 2009

Rudeness Should Equal Reprimand

UConn Huskies athletic logoImage via Wikipedia

Being 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.
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18 comments:

  1. You made some very good points, but what about the rudeness of questioning someone's salary? A question of that sort is out of line, especially at a news conference after a game. You're right, he should have just walked away.

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  2. Right on, Duchess Linda. Manners, respect, civility seem to have gone the way of the horse and buggy.
    I'll join you in being an old-fashioned woman.
    I saw Calhoun's tirade, and found it embarrassing. You're right that after all these years in the public eye he should know how to deal with the press. Give me a break.

    (shhh..don't tell...I don't watch any of UConn's games)

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  3. There's never a good time or place to make a bad choice. No matter the venue, with much privilege comes much responsibility. The coach chose poorly.

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  4. First of all a question of that sort is not out of line. He is a state employ which I help pay his salary. If one of the players made that same remark they would be reprimand for sure. He is suppose to be an example. If you want to be in the limelight then you are going to have to take the heat. ssSometimes the truth hurts.(over payed big time.) and above all you can be a ASS but never let them see you act like a ASS. His rudeness didn't bother me as much as his arrogance.

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  5. Somehow having a sports coach as the highest paid state employee speaks volumes about our current economic crisis and the sad state of our priorities as a nation. And I'd like to point out to the coach that, as a former public employee, our salaries are public record and the press has every right and responsibility to ask questions.

    And finally, is it any wonder that many of our sports figures have become arrogant, spoiled and rude...look at the examples that are being set by their mentors.

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  6. the sports guy makes the most??? that is outrageous! and says a lot about us doesn't it? sigh...

    smiles, bee
    xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoox

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  7. "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."

    - This is just so epic and I admire his braveness but then he still kinda crossed a line but well, since he is a journalist and an activist, he's got a lot of ideas in his mind for questioning the Coach about the salary. Coach Calhoun came on him pretty immature and perhaps too strong and I think he's got no right to brag about 12 million dollars or whatever.

    I agree with you on why athletes get paid too much, some of them dropped out of school just to play sports. I got nothing against that but it's really funny how people who studied for so many years get half of what the athletes make.

    We've become a society who doesn't care anymore who they step on. Especially the Internet and how people comment and fight about useless things. Seriously, everyone needs to grow up.

    Nice blog and Much Love,

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  8. I am a HUGE UConn fan. My dad was captain of UConn back in the day. I've met Calhoiun a couple of times. He is a great guy. He gives so much of his time to charity and fighting cancer. Every Thanksgiving he and the team give out food to the poor. Governor Rell did also say his numbers were correct that he brought in that much money to the school.

    That all said: You are right. He handled that terribly.

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  9. Generally, as a society, we have lost the ability to hold a discussion with people whose viewpoint differs from our own. In fact, in cases like this, there is no such thing as an open mind.

    There are a couple of issues here, and I apologize in advance, because you've pushed a button and I might get a little verbose. The first issue is that of the salary quoted for a state employee. It says a lot about the priorities. He says justifies it by saying that he brings over $12M a year into the institution. But a tenured professor can bring amounts approaching that level into the institution in the form of research grants, but will be paid a fraction of what the coach makes. In addition, they actually have to teach classes, conduct research, attract students, publish papers and juggle a huge workload all at the same time. Which position is more important to the institution. The sports junkies who agree with the coach's statements would ignore the tenured professor.

    The second issue is the inequality of salaries in general. What makes a corporate CEO worth $20M or $30M a year, when the average employee makes $50K to $80K? Who is more vital to the survival of the corporation? How about when the CEO is effectively fired and walks away with millions of dollars in severance packages. This is what so many in this country are so upset with right now.

    There has always been an element of class envy that has existed in the U.S. Up until recently, it was something that ran just under the surface and was something that caused minor conflict. With the huge decline in the economy it is becoming a major issue. Mainly because not only are the poor getting poorer, but in numbers that are unprecedented in our history the middle class is being wiped out. There will soon be no middle class, just the rich and the poor.

    Sorry, again, for the rant. But the incident you blogged about is one of the main symptoms of a much more serious problem in this country. But the solution is going to be very complex and not easily addressed.

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  10. Talking about salary, Sir Fred Goodwin, known as Fred The Shred, has effectively ruined a bank, but when he left, he refuses to give up his massive £693,000 pension

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  11. Lee's comment should be a post. Well said.

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  12. On the subject of rudeness, something happened around our household. Though my son is divorced the boy he got with the marriage still thinks of him as dad and me as grandma Jamie. He lives with his other set of grandparents, but was just here for a visit.

    I asked him to perform a chore and he replied, "I like it here. Nobody yells and you all say, please and thank you."

    Too many children are being raised by people who think it is normal to yell and forget to say please and thank you.

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  13. well, I'm not gonna jump on the coach until I've actually heard the interview. Reporters are trained to be pains in the rump and that one was obviously trying to get his goat in the first place. It sounds from your account here that the coach DID try to sidestep the question and only lost his cool after the reporter continued to badger him.

    There is a time and place and that interview should have been about the win...not about his salary.

    Perhaps the coach did say things he shouldn't have...but perhaps it was the only way to get the reporter to shut up. And from the bit that you quoted...it looks like the reporter was out for flash value and didn't bother with details in the first place. So I'm with the coach on telling him to shut up till he got his facts straight, then come back to discuss.

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  14. I totally agree with your concept of rudeness, the overwhelming salary of a coach and his mouthiness. But, that being said, I find a lot of the press in contempt, too. They go so far here to print the salaries of our fire and police personnel. Yes, it is public but all it did was cause a huge ruckus and a call for the fire and police to outlaw overtime. R-I-G-H-T-. Why don't the overpaid coaches supplement the salaries of our grossly underpaid public servants? And I'd love for the press to shut their collective traps.
    ~~~Blessings~~~

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  15. I totally agree with your concept of rudeness, the overwhelming salary of a coach and his mouthiness. But, that being said, I find a lot of the press in contempt, too. They go so far here to print the salaries of our fire and police personnel. Yes, it is public but all it did was cause a huge ruckus and a call for the fire and police to outlaw overtime. R-I-G-H-T-. Why don't the overpaid coaches supplement the salaries of our grossly underpaid public servants? And I'd love for the press to shut their collective traps.
    ~~~Blessings~~~

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  16. Just throwing my 2 cents in, I agree that the outburst was a little unprofessional, but I believe it was called for considering how rude the reporter/blogger was. This guy comes into a press conference after a heated basketball game, and fires questions as to how much money he makes, and why doesn't he give some of his pay back??!! Would any one of us tolerate that kind of question? I know I would have been throwing some explicatives at him...LOL

    This reporter made a big deal out of his Comcast contract, and his non-UConn salary, which he makes by doing speeches and appearences on his own time. Personally, I don't blame Calhoun for flipping out on him. He just coached a tough game, and was expecting to answer questions about the game, and this "tool" tries to single him out like he's making the State of CT bankrupt with his $300,000 UConn salary.

    The reporter is just lucky he didn't ask the same of Geno Auriema, being Italian, and from Philly and all. There'd be a hit called out on him... LOL

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  17. Hey Linda.
    I've seen the clip.
    It looked to me like the coach was irked that the reporter was talking about his salary versus basketball. I dunno. Here's this blogger's take on it. Oh, and the reporter was less than polite, too.

    http://elmersbro.bloghi.com/2009/02/26/demonizing-success.html

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  18. Anonymous8:13 PM EDT

    Sorry Linda, I don't agree. The so-called hack reporter with activist ties is one of many of an ever-growing stream of troublemakers set on causing just this type of activity. I believe the Governor herself fell victim in some circle to his hijinks at a rally in Hartford. Mr. K should feel so bold in the stands at a UCONN game or on the street with his sorry antics. You bet my Dutch Uncle that in the real world and on the street Coach Calhoun DID hold back. Alot of people would've slugged him.

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