I have always been a pretty honest fellow, often to a fault. I’m also a sports fan and an athlete. Being honest has led me to always attempt to play with the utmost sportsmanship in games and races. Now as a coach I’m trying to instill in my players why winning the right way is much more important than winning. I thought I was going to start this series about coaches who lack all the qualities of sportsmanship. However, Derek Jeter decided to go for an Emmy and so this is my first topic.
Derek Jeter is a famous player for the Yankees in Major League Baseball. The other night in a heated game against division rival Tampa Bay he got hit by a pitch, a event that would call for him to go to first base. Except the ball didn’t hit him. As he elaborately spun around the ball hit the knob of his bat, potentially grazing his uniform around the hip area as it bounced away. What did Jeter do? He grasps his elbow in apparent pain. He goes down to first.
Let’s be clear. This is dishonest and cheating. The ball did not hit him where he pretended to be struck. In fact, it basically did not hit him at all. The only reason he benefited was he dishonestly deceived the umpires. A columnist in the Globe noted 15 seconds of instant replay would have revealed this truth. The amazing thing though is not that Jeter cheated but how upfront everyone is about it.
Joe Maddon, the Tampa Bay Manager noted, “If our guys had done it, I would have applauded the performance. If our guy does it, I’m very happy if we end up getting the call.”
Jeter himself casually remarked after the game, “It’s part of the game, My job is to get on base.”
I’ve watched pro sports for the better part of 15 years. I am not naive enough to believe that professionals won’t do everything they possibly can to get an edge or win a game. It happens. I know that when I got emotional playing soccer even as a lowly high-schooler I didn’t always play fairly. However cheating is cheating and it should be called out for what it is and at the very least seen as dishonorable.
This isn’t the culture we are living in today however and so it goes. Stay tune for more entries on famous coaches who illustrate everything that is wrong with sports.