During Michigan state's first round win over Bradley in the NCAA tournament, head coach Tom Izzo was seen getting very angry and going after freshman forward Aaron Henry. Henry was giving what Izzo referred to as a lack of effort. By now you've all seen the clip or heard a version of what happened so I won't go into too much more detail. The outcry after the incident against Izzo would have you thinking he was a criminal or worse. It got me thinking about how soft we've gotten as a society, especially when it comes to being corrected.
What Henry and Izzo called coaching, most of the people who weighed in on the situation said it was uncalled for, unnecessary, a hole behavior, etc. You get the picture. To me, this was just a moment in which a man in charge of young men and their growth decided to have a teaching moment that happened to be caught on the national stage. Nowadays, everyone is so sensitive to being corrected, told they've done something wrong, be criticized, or anything remotely negative. Quite frankly, I'm sick of it!
This is an extension of the wussification of America. John Granato wrote about the drama queens in sports last month and I couldn't agree with him more. He came at it with the approach that we know too much about the behind the scenes drama and ancillary things about athletes these days. Back in the day, we wouldn't have known any of that stuff and wouldn't have cared. Now, we have a 24 hour or less news cycle and social media that constantly need feeding.
Part of the problem lies in the fact that kids are raised differently these days. Back in my day (I know, I know), we got ass whippings. I used to get in trouble so much, I knew how to get a whipping and not have it hurt as much. I even perfected fake crying and being dramatic. I knew I was next level when I would use psychology to get out of trouble.
These days, kids have safe spaces. Parents are afraid to be hard on their kids because they're being told it will harm their kids' psychologically and stunt their emotional growth. That's the biggest load of crap I've heard in some time! I got my ass whipped and turned out just fine! I got fussed at and criticized when I messed up and ended up more mentally tough than most. I didn't let adversity turn me into a crying little bitch. No. I used that adversity, the criticism, the hard times, created a Texas-sized chip on my shoulder, and led all of that to motivate me into the person you see.
People tell my wife and I how well-mannered or well-behaved our kids are all the time. "They can come over any time" or other iterations of that phrase has been told to us numerous times over the years. Why? Because we raised them to be respectful, thoughtful, and we're hard enough on them to ensure they are ready for how tough the real world can be. Are they truly ready? Only time will tell. They're still teenagers, but they have a better foundation than some of these entitled spoiled brats.
A well-placed tongue lashing, a good ass whipping, and some tough love could have made some of today's athletes much better, or easier to tolerate. What if Kevin Durant wasn't so sensitive to twitter comments? What if Antonio Brown handled his grievances behind the scenes? What if Jonathan Martin had slapped the crap out of Richie Incognito? Have you ever thought about what the news cycle would look like had social media been around when Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Babe Ruth, Lawrence Taylor, or some other all-time greats were in their heyday?
I didn't write this as a pity party, to brag on our parenting skills, to bash current athletes, or to brag on how things were back in my day. I wrote this to bring attention to how soft we've gotten as a society and how it's bled over into sports. If you can't see the parallels between sports and society, you've got worse eyesight than Stevie Wonder. It's time we woke up. Not every criticism is an insult. Not every correction is an indictment. Sometimes we need tough love in order to reach our greatest potential. We need to realize that being pushed is better than being pulled or left behind. When we do, society, and sports, will all be better for it.
Houston Astros skipper Joe Espada wasted no time this week at spring training by answering one of the most talked about questions of the offseason.
Espada revealed that newly-acquired free agent Josh Hader will be the team's closer and will pitch the ninth inning, with Ryan Pressly working as the setup man.
Bryan Abreu will be tapped to pitch the seventh inning, but it wouldn't shock anyone if he had the best season of the three. But after Abreu, things get interesting in the bullpen.
Who pitches the sixth inning?
Astros GM Dana Brown gave Rafael Montero a vote of confidence, saying he's “legit.”
While we have our concerns about Montero after he finished with an ERA over five last year, there's reason for hope. The nature of relief pitchers halving up and down seasons from year to year could work in Montero's favor.
And with the salary that's already committed to him, Brown will likely give him every opportunity to justify his contract. It will be fascinating to see how Espada deploys him early on. You have to think with the boss man backing Montero, Espada will be on board too.
But if he does struggle, will Espada quickly stop using him in critical situations? The good news is, the team won't often have to turn to him in high leverage situations with Abreu, Pressly, and Hader ready to handle those duties.
Be sure to watch the video above for the full discussion about the Astros 'pen, and much more!
Don't miss Stone Cold 'Stros (an Astros podcast) every week on SportsMapHouston's YouTube channel!