Hard-nosed coaches must be allowed to coach

Thirty minutes into his team’s 72-46 loss to the University of Florida, South Carolina head basketball coach Frank Martin had enough.

Directing his frustration at freshman guard Duane Notice, Martin shouted multiple obscenities.

Shortly after Martin’s outburst, athletic director Ray Tanner suspended the head coach for “inappropriate verbal communication as it relates to the well-being of our student athletes.”

Regardless of his stellar coaching record or his widespread support amongst players, Martin’s politically incorrect outburst was too much for the University of South Carolina to overlook.

Suspension raises questions

In the wake of Martin’s suspension, it is time that we, as a society, confront difficult questions regarding what constitutes acceptable coaching behavior.

Among these questions is how far we are willing to let coaches go in order to motivate and produce results. What is meant by “results,” and at what point does acceptable motivation become unacceptable degradation?

In answering these questions, it becomes clear that while coaches like Martin are neither easy on our ears or our politically correct sensibilities, there is value in what they bring to the table.

Rather than vilifying Martin and others like him, it is necessary to value hard-nosed coaching styles because ultimately, such styles produce results.

Defining ‘results’

Prior to delving into a discussion of appropriate motivational tactics, it is important to consider what results coaches should pursue.

As narrow minded as this may sound, it is my belief that coaches should prioritize winning above all else.

Teams with impressive win/loss records are guided by coaches who demand excellence, which is impossible to obtain absent discipline and dedication.

The point is, when coaches pursue wins, solid values are imparted. At the end of the day, coaches who prioritize winning provide athletes with the tools to be successful in all walks of life.

Methods seen as madness

Now that ‘results’ has been defined, we must consider which coaching tactics we, as a society, are willing to accept.

Until recently, coaches were given a free reign when it came to the motivational tactics that they could employ in seeking results. Thus, several successful coaches, including Martin, employed emotionally charged and sometimes profane styles to will their teams to victory.

With the passage of time however, hardnosed coaching styles have fallen out of favor, as increasing political correctness has resulted in the suspension or termination of several notoriously intense coaches.

A return to the past

While countless people argue that hardnosed coaching has no place in the athletic arena, I strongly disagree.

History leaves little doubt that intense, emotional and even profane coaches achieve success while molding quality human beings.

Take longtime Indiana University basketball coach Bob Knight as an example. Yes, the all-time great coach was hard on the ears and insulted our sensibilities, but there is little argument that he achieved results on and off the court.

At the end of the day, we must allow coaches to do their jobs. As opposed to questioning positive results and the tactics used to achieve those results, give coaches like Martin a free reign.

By doing so, countless young people will succeed athletically while simultaneously learning positive values that will serve them well throughout their lives.