DUBUQUE — Anyone who has read my blog or my column for the Lorian knows that I’m a pretty cynical person when it comes to sports. I’m not into the whole “everyone is special and deserves a trophy for participation” philosophy. I make a lot of criticisms with my writing, but I like to think that these criticisms are warranted. There is nothing I hate more than unfair criticism. Unfortunately, here at Loras, unfair criticism has become a problem — and something needs to be said about it.
Can a team be bad? In a manner of speaking, yes. You are what your record says you are — from a “results” point-of-view. If you want to say the team is “bad,” that’s one thing. But I have a problem when I overhear people saying things like “such and such a team doesn’t try,” or “such and such a team doesn’t care.”
People make these statements without any knowledge of the team whatsoever. The closest I came to being a member of a collegiate team was when I served as the manager of the football team during my first two years here at Loras. So, although I’m talking about sports in general, I primarily can relate to any criticism thrown the football team’s direction, even though I no longer have a vested interest. Frankly, I could care less. I’m writing this mostly because I find joy in exposing bulls#!%.
We need to learn to make the distinction between effort and results. If anything, the fact that the team has been losing tells you the players care even MORE. It’s hard to put in the work every day when you’re not seeing the results on the field. The daily grind wouldn’t be as daunting if the team has a 9-0 record.
If we want to use the football team as an example, sure, the results haven’t been there for a few years (although the team appears to be performing better this season). But during that time, you can’t tell me that the effort wasn’t either. Because I saw it with my own eyes.
When I was team manager of the football team, I had been to the practices. I had been to the games. I had been on the bus rides. I had seen the workouts. Players are in the weight room as early as 6 a.m. for workouts several times per week, even in the off-season. I had seen players throw up on the field out of exhaustion. I had seen players get injured. I saw how hard the coaches work; I lived across the street from their offices in the Fieldhouse. I would see their cars parked out front when I go to bed, and I would see those same cars again when I wake up in the morning. I had been in the locker room after a loss and seen the looks of disappointment on the players’ faces. I witnessed seniors break into tears after they had just played their final game in the Rock Bowl.
But no, you’re right. They don’t care.
When you criticize a collegiate athlete, what are you really accomplishing here? In reality, you’re no different than the fourth-grade bully who makes fun of the kid with the goofy wire-framed glasses. You’re just pointing out the failures of others to shift the focus away from your own flaws and insecurities. When you make those comments, great, you got a few cheap laughs and people think you’re like “so totally cool” now. But all you’re really doing is insulting the body of work that those players put in on a daily basis.
You might still think that those players don’t care. Are you entitled to your opinion? Sure.
But you have no idea what the hell you’re talking about.