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Fans (Even Rich Ones) Should Know Their Place

April 18th, 2010 by dk

I write about politics more often than sports. That’s not because I know more than most about politics, but because I know there are people who know more than me about sports. This one is really about both.

I had a quick conversation with a retired UO administrator and he told me twice that sports fans don’t make good administrators, because their instincts are all wrong. A good administrator (and probably a good coach) has to think straight at just the time that a fan is screaming himself silly. Administering sports requires a dispassionate attention to detail and ruthless execution that could seem cold or scheming or manipulative to the fan, but only when it doesn’t work.

The coach or the administrator needs the support of the fan and the fan relies on their expertise in return. It’s a symbiotic relationship, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily respectful. Maybe coaches are turning down Kilkenny because they see him as a fan, a groupie, a supporter who doesn’t really understand what it takes to succeed as a coach. They appreciate him when he’s in the role of fan, but not as somebody who would make promises and keep them to a potential hire. Maybe they think he wouldn’t know how. For that matter, good coaches may feel the same about Phil Knight — a rich man with a good heart who loves his team, but is out of his depth.

Not so very different from politicians and their financial supporters. The politician knows he needs the support, but he or she is ever mindful that legislating is more complex than the supporter understands. As they say, “Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and it annoys the pig.” When politicians claim that no contributor has ever swayed a vote on legislation, that’s what they are trying to say. “We not only don’t expect our contributors to understand what it is they are paying us to do, we rely on that ignorance to keep us untainted. We appreciate but do not respect our supporters when they propose legislation. That’s how you know we’re good at what we do.”

Mizzou coach Mike Anderson gave a quote this weekend that likewise sheds light far beyond the circle of sports. He told local media, “when I was approached by Oregon, I decided to listen, but it was simply with my family in mind.” What exactly does that mean? The man makes $1.55 million a year. Does his family need more than that? It’s clear he “decided to listen” to find out how much money was on the table.

That cracks the code for me. When a politician or celebrity wants to talk about money, they simply substitute “family” in the sentence where “money” would tell the unseemly truth. When leaving the limelight, what’s offered as the most common motivation? They want to be left alone to spend more time with their money.

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5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Johnna Apr 18, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Don – so, the Missou coach should NOT have tried to look at other offers becasue he was already making too much $$. ??? His family doesnt “need” anymore? Isnt that their family decison to make just as much as yours? He worked hard to get to his level of income – wether you or others or me think that is $$$ appropriate…he has very right to work the system that he did not invent. Maybe you should stick to not writing about sports !!! I think there are many many sports figures that love their family and want to provide for them and be with them. This isnt an intellectual discussion versus sports is it? Nobody worked harder than my 2 daughters to get a fab education while ALSO playing D1 bball….graduating with honors and then Master’s. It is not the 200,000$ they earned in scholarships……it is the education that was their privaledge to earn. Anna said it best ” It was her job to play bball in college “. Not given to her but work work work.
    Sorry, I am tired and I am not picking on you ! Just sometimes I get riled up when others diminish sports as a sub-culture.
    P.S. I dont know anything about the Missou coach – maybe he is a bum. :)

  • 2 i0e Apr 18, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    Why do you think so highly of politicians? Their constituents in the private sector are often far more talented in all aspects of life and must survive in a competitive business environment. Girly-men like you would think only politicians they can legislate…it’s obvious who you voted for.

    Your assertion that MA of Mizzou was wrong for listening to an offer shows you will never make any substantial amount of money..those jealous of wealth will never attain it. MA has the right to listen to a school that offers him any form of a raise. Let me guess, your “UO administrator” contact was in the English dept? Maybe women’s studies?

    Take your socialist opinions to a soccer form.

  • 3 allan neil Apr 18, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    When a person who writes about politics writes “there are people who know more than me” he actually means ‘I know more than anyone, that’s why I am writing this article.’

  • 4 joe Apr 18, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    you forget Kilkenny hired the current track coach, baseball coach, softball coach, football coach, women’s basketball coach, men’s golf coach… all huge successes. well, add a new baseball park, olympic trials, and a new basketball arena. perhaps ignorant bloggers should know there place.

  • 5 thepar Apr 19, 2010 at 7:47 am

    Kilkeeny DID NOT hire the track coach or mens golf coachs!! Kilkenny was still in califonia ripping people off selling insurance when they were both hired. He also didnt hire Chip kelly, Mike Bellotti did! He had nothing to due with bring the olympic trails back to nHayward Field, that was done 5 years ago when Lannana was hired! He also had nothinjg to do with the new basketball white elaphant that is being built. That had been talked about 20 years ago! So Joe get your facts,befor running your mounth!!~