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Gastelum: Coaches in headlines spoil week of sports (April 12)

Andrew Gastelum | Thursday, April 12, 2012

It’s the first line and I am already dropping the bomb. Well, now it is the second line but here it is: This week in sports was the best one of the year.

We saw national championships won, Opening Day celebrated, an underdog story at The Masters and the start of the hectic NHL playoffs.

So there is plenty to talk about, right?

But check the headlines. They are not the glory of the green jacket or the start of baseball. They are about coaches.

The same guys who sit inconspicuously at the end of the bench are now more important than the players on the court. The same middle-aged men who are well removed from their playing days are the ones making the most noise. The figures who head the front lines of their teams in press conferences and appearances are now making the headlines, for all the wrong reasons.

One of these coaches cannot leave a football team on good terms. Former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino crashed his motorcycle, joined by an Arkansas assistant. And she was around the same age as Petrino’s daughter. And she was engaged. And she was hired improperly and given $20,000 as a gift. Oh, and Petrino tried to cover it all up. That merits a firing, and that should be the end of it.

Another coach has a bad habit of running his mouth. Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen expressed his love for Cuba’s very own Fidel Castro. The coach who was supposed to usher in the new era of Miami baseball with Latin flair enraged fans in Little Havana – of all places – by saying the worst possible thing to the community. The Marlins (and Miami) had to have known what they were getting with Ozzie, an unfiltered, unplugged loudmouth who can go off at any time. That merits a suspension, and that should be the end of it.

And just to continue the trend in sports’ Big Three, Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy told reporters Dwight Howard called for his firing. It’s an asinine move for a team in the middle of a playoff race. If a trade at the deadline in the whole Dwight Howard scenario is a perfectly-cooked, medium-well steak (the best possible case), then the waiter has served us a burnt crisp. And we are still eating it up. And what did Van Gundy’s move accomplish? It merely grabbed attention away from the players, the games and the rest of the NBA. That merits swift criticism, and that should be the end of it.

In the Petrino case, we are not thinking about the players who lost a coach and a leader in the middle of spring practices, and were on the cusp of doing some serious damage in the SEC.

And in the Ozzie case, we are not thinking about the offended Cuban-Americans who escaped Castro’s oppressive regime and lost loved ones in the process.

I am ashamed these are our headlines, coming off such a thrilling week in sports.

It’s not just these three either. See Sean Payton, Urban Meyer, Mike D’Antoni, John Tortorella and even Jose Mourinho.

But don’t blame the media. They are simply reporting a story worth reporting. It is our faults as sports fans, for letting controversies and scandals take control of our sacred games. I want to talk about Bubba golf, Kentucky basketball and Dodger Stadium’s 50th anniversary, not infidelity, insensitive remarks and hurt feelings.

We feed these stories by giving them the fervent attention we should be giving to the better things in sports. It defeats what we love most in sports: the thrill and fun of the game. It turns ESPN into TMZ, and sports reporting into near-tabloids.

Good stories like Bubba Watson’s improbable Masters win are ruined by our insatiable need for the juicy news of the day.

I just want my sports back. You should too.

Contact Andrew Gastelum at agastel1@nd.edu

The views expressed in this Sports Authority column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.