Copyright © 1997, Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Date:Wed, 26 Nov 1997 08:01:42 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Random Thought: What Do John Madden and Mike Ditka Know?

"That's not my job," one sociology professor howled at me as if I had pounded a festering wound. "I am here only to teach them some thinking skills and transmit the information of subject. AND THAT'S ALL (her emphasis). I'm here to give them mastery of the subject and cover all the material. Let them go to a priest, friend, lover, parent, or counselor for their emotional growth. My job is strictly to promote intellectual development and academic accomplishment! What do you have to say to that?" She was by no means a lone voice.

She deserve a reply, but I think I'll let John Madden and to a lesser extent Mike Ditka be the point men and let them reply for me. For those who don't know who these two people are, John Madden is a renown and highly respected television commentator of American football who was once a highly successful player and coach, and Mike Ditka, also a past player, is currently a coach of a football team. Anyway, I was watching the New England Patriot game a couple of weeks ago and was listening to John Madden's always colorful, "been there" commentary as the Patriots were getting trounced. It's interesting how he inseparably joined what the athletes were or weren't doing on the field with what was or was not going on inside themselves, how he emphasized the impact that emotion and attitude had on effort and performance. It wasn't too far into the first quarter when he observed, "They don't have heart," He continued, "There's no fire. They are just not in it, and it's effecting their play." His first words struck me. I ran to get a pencil and scribbled his comments down in the margins of the newspaper lying next to me.

Throughout the rest of the game his commentary was punctuated by a running staccato of similar sharp observations: "They just don't have their mind on the game, and the score shows it." "There's no motivation and they're moving in slow motion." "They didn't come out big and are playing little." "They're not rookies, but are tackling like they are." These guys have lots of talent and get paid lots of money, and they have no juice in their battery." "There's just no fire." "They have no heart, and you just can't play only with your head." "They're flat and it's not letting them play up to their talent or their paycheck."

"That's the coach's job," Madden concluded towards the end of the game without holding anything back. "He has to get the most out of them by preparing them emotionally and not just draw circles and squares and arrows on a chalk board. The coaches haven't kept the players focused. They didn't take charge. They're supposed to prepare them for the game, and I don't mean just the game plan. I mean the WHOLE (Madden's emphasis) game." It was only two days ago that Mike Ditka said in a fit of frustration that it was his job as coach to instill "passion in these guys."

So, I ask, what do Madden and Ditka, as well as a host of other athletic coaches, professional and non-professional alike, whom too many of us academics so easily dismiss and condemn as "dumb jocks," know that the overwhelming majority of us professors don't know, .... or don't want to know, ....or refuse to know, ....or perhaps are afraid to know?

Make it a good day.


Louis Schmier  (912-333-5947)
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