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Opening Arguments

Changing times

I like The San Francisco Chronicle's Ray Ratto's take on the departure of Bobby Knight:

But as he leaves, at least for the moment, let's forget the argument and consider what Knight takes with him - the notion of the coach as the pre-eminent figure in athletics.

Oh, there are still a few holdovers, and all of them are college figures - Mike Krzyzewski at Duke, Pete Carroll at USC, Pat Summitt at Tennessee, a few others here and there. But for the most part, the coach as the sole authority figure, right and wrong, is yesterday's power structure. In exchange for better contracts and job opportunities outside the business, the coach is now an employee, and given how employees have been devalued in the new economy, that isn't necessarily a positive development.

[. . .]

Knight as a representative of the coaching fraternity is also one of the last of his kind, because coaches are increasingly considered to be glorified shop foremen. In the pro game, they fall behind the owner and the highest paid player without a troublesome arrest record. In the college game, they fall behind the richest and loudest alum. In the high school game, they fall behind the best player and the most organized unhappy parent.

[. . .]

In short, the power shifted, and Knight didn't shift quickly enough, or willingly enough. His story in the end is a lot of things, but one of them is that the role of his chosen profession went from all-powerful godhead to cranky shop foreman, no longer the architect of the program but a custodian thereof, a servant to the new power.

When people say Knight was a brilliant coach in his day but he didn't keep up with the times, they're usually referring to the game itself, but this is about how the business of the game has changed. If a coach is now just an employee whose best chance of success is to be willing and able to move around a lot, that greatly diminishes the coach's role as teacher.

Posted in: Hoosier lore, Sports


A J Bogle
Thu, 02/07/2008 - 9:30am

Like all great leaders they oftewn alos had great flaws. For all of knoghts antics, he is and will be remembered as one of the all time greats in college basketball - no one can take away his wins, national titles or graduation rates.

As the truly greats are or have retired there are so few left of the old school - coach K, Izzo and a few others.

We will never see the likes of the great IU - PU Keady Knight rivalries that we once had, my regret is taking for granted they would always be there.

College basketball has changed and not for the better. It is no longer about the rivalries and traditions and teamwork and leadership - and everything about being a training camp for NBA show boaters and overpaid crybabies.