The following column popped up on Facebook from a year ago. While the first part of it is something I have written about many times, the second half has to do with how a new arena was going to do nothing to help the Sacramento Kings.
I kind of nailed that one.
Life is full of regrets.
The old man always told me that next to bitterness, there is nothing worse than regret. And sorry dad, my life is chocked full of both, but the one thing I do not regret is that I did not chase the dream that engulfed me from the age of 10 until after I joined the service: to go to college, get a physical education degree and be a high school football coach.
I was constantly doodling plays. When I was 16 I went back and helped coach the youth football team I played for, and did so until the team president – who could not stand me or my old man – gave me the kibosh toward the end of the season because I was not 18. While technically correct, he did so out of spite and that was my initial encounter with the politics of life. (I received the McCormick-Schilling Blanket Award when I was in eighth grade – the equivalent of league MVP – and it killed that team president to have to present it to me. But, he got his a few years later.)
I went on to both coach and play football in the service, and was all set to play for my hometown junior college when on the third day of practice I decimated my shoulder. To this day I have limited mobility in both of my shoulders, but I have it much better than many former warriors jilted by the game we love so much.
Life happened, kids happened, and the pages on the calendar kept turning. Eventually I got back into coaching, although it was just supposed to be to help with youth football conditioning. Well, that parlayed into quite a few years a the youth level before being fortunate enough to become part of a local high school staff. At that point I was amazed by how much I did not know about the game.
Eventually a crossroads came – either take the fork in the road that led to being a reporter or continue down the coaching road. Down the reporter road I went. There are days that I miss the game so much, none more so then on Friday nights in the fall. Reporting keeps me close to the game, and at times I even get caught up in some memorable post-season runs. Also, some may consider it sad, but nothing has ever supplanted the thrill of taking the field as a high-school linebacker.
But that thrill has long-since faded. And while I long for life on the gridiron, every so often something happens that just smacks me right between the eyes and reminds me that life behind the lens and the keyboard is where I belong. The most recent head knocker: the firing of George Karl by the Sacramento Kings.
When he came to Sacramento, Karl was the fifth-winningest coach in NBA history. He had 23 consecutive non-losing seasons (he was 41-41 one year) and he just led the Kings to their best record in nearly a decade. When Sacramento hires Karl’s replacement, he will be the ninth Kings coach in 10 years. What is the constant in that long line of failures? Certainly is is not the coaching. Front-office incompetence – maybe the San Francisco 49ers administrative philosophy has migrated up I-80 – and petulant players will continue to doom Sacramento until both are rectified.
Just as Levis Stadium did nothing for the Niners, Golden One Arena will not prop up the Kings. Sacramento needs to look a little east to the Bay Area to see how unselfishness and teamwork on the hardwood make the team – not superstars and pouting.
But all the blame does not rest on the shoulders of the millionaire crybabies. There are coaches along the way let them get away with murder, and now they just assume they are entitled. And the dim-witted knuckle-dragging google-eyed fans continue to perpetuate a life without consequences every time they ask for an autograph or buy a jersey.
From youth to high school, I have seen first-hand players that deserved to be yanked off the field by their face mask and thrown onto the bench. More often than not, that behavior goes unchecked and is sometimes rewarded. Not always though. Occasionally a coach will buck the trend and hold an athlete accountable. But that does not happen nearly enough.
So had I followed my long-ago dream, I am sure I would have been drummed out of the coaching corps by now, because there is no way on God’s green earth I could tolerate the impetuous ungrateful athletes that are being spawned today. I will continue on the outside looking in, shaking my head more often than not, but occasionally I will crack a grin when a coach reaches into his old-school bag and locks a heel or two.
Only when that happens a little more often will the attitude of athletes return to where it should have never deviated from. But I am not holding my breath.