Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Coach regrets bad behavior - with a camera rolling

I found this interesting. The men's basketball coach at D-III Holy Family in Philadelphia shoves (perhaps "assaults" is the better word) one of his own players during a workout. The incident is captured on videotape and the coach is suspended.

Somehow, the coach and player end up as guests on Good Morning America. They are sitting next to one another at a table as a host asks the coach whether he wishes to apologize to the player and the player whether he is able to forgive the coach. It is an odd moment and I will not give away the ending.

Suffice to say the coach expresses regret for his actions. It seems to me he most regrets that the tape of this incident has gone viral.

I have known high school and college coaches who were severe with their players - in my judgment, overly so. I could respect them because it seemed to me that they remained in control. The stern treatment was a calculation on their part, a prod with a purpose. At times a particular rant might seem over the top to me. I could see the reasoning even if I disagreed with it.

This is different. It seems to me that John O'Connor just lost his head. Or mind.

Thanks Dave Tracey.


Solomon Alexander said...


This turned out to be a disaster between player and coach. The Good Morning America video is available on my blog site - In coaching, your objective is to make your players better. I don't see how that drill or the "accident" that happened make anyone bettter.

Dan said...

Hi Mark,

Here is my response to this post, which can also be found on my blog:


Dan here:

When our actions as coaches come from places that we do not ourselves fully understand, we are moving into difficult and troubling territory. Coach O'Connor is in no way unique; perhaps exaggerated and "over the top", but in no way unique. I would assume that he felt angry about something that happened (or didn't happen) during practice, that he reacted to his anger by behaving inappropriately, and that he realized after the fact that perhaps he had crossed the (implied) line.

There are hundreds of "Coach O'Connors" working with our kids today. These men and women, I would argue, lack self-awareness. When they feel angry, they do not possess the ability to question themselves as to whether or not their anger is justified or if it is in fact based in reality. They see their perceptions as truth, and they react accordingly. Worse still, these coaches often develop elaborate rationalizations as a way to make their impulsive behaviors appear righteous and entirely acceptable.

We live in a culture that does not value self-examination. We live in a culture that honors melodrama and "winning" more than it does truth. As coaches, I think that part of our job is to be tireless in our own commitment to examining how and why we respond to situations and to certain children in the manner we do. And as we become increasingly self-aware, our tendency to react thoughtlessly and impulsively to our states-of-mind diminishes, and our ability to treat our players with more compassion and respect grows.