Saturday, March 13, 2010

Chip Kelly Oregon Ducks Piece from CNNSI

This of course isn't hockey-related, but I've posted football stuff on this blog previously so when I think about linking here to a story about my beloved Oregon Ducks football, I say "why the heck not?"

The Ducks have been very much in the news lately with multiple players arrested for various legal transgressions (and at least one already booted off the team)... and now there's news about the two most acclaimed current Duck players, Jeremiah Masoli and LaMichael James. James suspending for a game and (Heisman hopeful QB) Masoli for the entire season.

The extent of my knowledge about each case has been (and for the most part still is) limited to knowing that Masoli plead guilty to a charge of felony (reduced to a misdemeanor with his plea) burglary with the theft of a laptop and James plead guilty to a misdemeanor harassment charge after an incident with an ex-girlfriend.

This being said, I had no huge opinion about each case except for how they both relate to my twin views I have about (1) athletes on the teams I follow and (2) what I want from said teams followed.

The first is that I recognize that because someone plays for "my team", it does not make them a good guy... some people are just plain bad guys (see: Phillips, Lawrence who played for the 49ers among other teams). Because they're on my team, I don't have to have any illusions that they're somehow a cut above any "riff-raff types who play on teams I don't root for".

The second view is in a way contradictory, but... not really. When I think about my fandom for a given team, it's great for me to think that "my guys" might win a Stanley Cup/World Series/BCS Title, but the more important thing to me is that I be entertained and happy when I'm paying attention.

Yes, part of being entertained is certainly having a good team that's headed towards a championship goal, but part is also my not feeling embarrassed about the guys who are on the field. It's one thing entirely to know that everyone I want to succeed isn't someone I personally admire, but would be another to think that someones skill level gives them a completely different set of rules than apply to the rest of the team (see: Phillips, Lawrence and his Nebraska Cornhusker playing time after a bevy of domestic violence episodes). Basically, all I ask of the players on teams I support is that they try hard, live up to (or exceed) abilities and don't embarrass me to cheer for them... basically, entertain me.

Back to the issue at hand with said Oregon Ducks... I'm certainly not saying Masoli and James are bad dudes, in fact they may be great upstanding guys, but am saying that they have to be held to the same standards that would apply to less skilled players... with those standards hopefully being ones that would cause the University or fans that cheer for it's teams to not be embarrassed. It's not that I cheer the suspension of either (with Masoli's of course having more impact), but I am happy that Athletic Director Mike Bellotti and Head Coach Chip Kelly (with I imagine the input of University President Richard Lariviere) made decisions that don't seem to simply pander to the talent and potential for success on the field.

All of this said... I agree completely with (and enjoyed reading) Andy Staples from his tongue in cheek titled "Coach's decision a head-turner" on CNNSI. Solid.

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