Friday, September 04, 2009


I never thought I'd say this, but today I am ashamed to be a Duck.

After last night's University of Oregon-Boise State football game, a loss for the UO Ducks, UO running back LeGarrette Blount punched a Boise State player after the player touched him and made a comment. Blount then tried to go after some fans who were taunting him and had to be led out by coaches and security. The shameful video can be found here, if you can't already find it on Youtube by search for LeGarrette Blount.

Today is has been announced that Blount will be suspended for the rest of the season. As of right now, he will still be allowed to practice and travel with the team, remain on scholarship, and access services. I, for one, don't think that goes far enough. I think he should be completely kicked off the team. I don't think it sends a good message to keep him around the team. He should be shunned for his outrageous behavior.

Yes, Blount should be punished, but he also needs to be helped. Simply keeping him from playing football is not going to help him become a better person. I think he should be given some sort of counseling and anger management at the very least. This is clearly a young man - still a kid, really - who needs some help growing up. He lost it last night, and he's going to lose it again someday if someone doesn't help him learn to control himself and think before he acts.

This incident really makes me wonder what these kids are being taught other than football. Losing a game doesn't mean the team hasn't been taught good football. Only one team can win in a game, after all. But I think the players' behavior reflects on the coaches. Coaches should model the behavior they want their players to show. When I see coaches losing it on the sidelines, throwing a fit, I wonder how their players are supposed to take them seriously. Football is a game full of emotions, and part of learning to play football is learning to handle those emotions. If a player loses control during or after a game, those emotional skills are probably not being taught as they should be.

College sports have gotten so out-of-control. The focus has shifted to winning at any cost because of the potential rewards. Every game is important now. Every team wants that national championship or that coveted BCS spot, and it's hurting the players themselves. There is too much emphasis on the game and not enough emphasis on what college sports should really be about - making men out of boys and women out of girls. With the right guidance, student-athletes can learn how to respect others, how to play fair, how to win graciously, and how to handle intense emotions in the heat of battle. Such lessons have fallen behind while everyone goes chasing the money.

This needs to change. I would love to see a coach put the focus on his players becoming the best people they can be while still playing well and winning. Chip Kelly, Oregon's new head coach, has an opportunity to do just that. I hope he takes it.

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