Every-thing Sports

The wussification of America continues

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.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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