Kudos to Mike Freeman of CBSSports for one of the best analyses I’ve read in a while: “Modern Players Would Make Wooden Regret Career Choice.” He says today’s athletes are insulated:
Today, athletes see coaches as necessary evils. Some players see them as obstacles. Few see them the way athletes did just 20 years ago, as people to be respected.
Even greatness like Wooden would need a snorkel from drowning in the throbbing athlete cynicism and entitlement plague that permeates 21st century sports……
Wooden coached at a time when collegiate and professional sports were a Christmas card. There’s now a harder edge. There’s little storybook about sports. The only wizards are in Tolkien novels.
Today if a coach tried to talk about a pyramid of success, he would be laughed at. Players would go to Twitter and call the coach a dumbass and openly wonder what pyramids have to do with jumpers or making bank. Blogs would’ve ripped Wooden as corny. Players would be texting while Wooden was at the blackboard.
Brett Favre would’ve told Lombardi to kiss off. Randy Moss would still run his lazy routes.
“Today on Around the Horn, John Wooden hasn’t made the NCAA tournament in five seasons. Is it time for him to get fired?”
I get so excited when the absolute truth is spoken. And I love the “texting” line.
All this is true of both athletes and students at the high school and college levels. I believe this is one of, if not the reason there are so many NCAA transfers now.
It’s the reason so many teams, from high school to pro, lack fundamentals. And this quote is why track times today are slower than the times me and mine ran 25 years ago:
“When you watch these guys nowadays, I don’t think they could have played with us,” he said. “Not because they don’t have the talent, but because I don’t think they could have dealt with the discipline during my era. It’s almost like the kids today, with the way they’re raised and the things that are given to them, they don’t have respect for their elders. We were heads above all that because things weren’t tolerated like they are now. That’s what made you gain the respect of your coaches, because nothing was tolerated. The game is just played totally different now.”
I agree with Freeman: not even Wooden could deal with today’s attitudes.