Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Candid Camera

TigerBlog is a big fan of the ESPN show "Pardon the Interruption."

It's a pretty good format, with quick discussions of many topics, rather than beating two or three topics to death. The hosts (usually Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser, when he's not out for two weeks for a suspension that is the result of something that ESPN essentially is going out of its way to try to get its people to say, just not about their own on-air women (but that's another story), are very smart, interact well and are funny without forcing it (no easy task on ESPN).

The other thing about PTI is that you never know what's going to turn up there. A few weeks ago, it was a discussion of Ivy League men's basketball, for instance.

And then there was last week, when the sport of squash made it onto PTI. For a sport like squash to be thrust in to the spotlight, unfortunately, you know it has to be for something bad or something completely amazing. If not, why would it be on?

In this case, it was for something bad. By now, it's probable that you've seen the video on any number of outlets of the national team championship match between Trinity and Yale and how it ended.

In case you missed it, the short version is that Trinity's No. 1 player, Baset Chaudhry went a bit overboard in his postmatch taunting of Yale's Kenneth Chan. Well, a lot overboard. Did Chan do something in an earlier game to provoke Chaudhry? There's video of that too.

The result of all this was that Chaudhry, the two-time defending national champ, and Chan voluntarily withdrew from this weekend's individual championships, and the Men's College Squash Association Executive Committee issued a statement in support of those two decisions.

In the interest of full disclosure, Princeton men's coach Bob Callahan is the chair of the committee.

The issue today isn't whether or not the right outcome was reached. Nor is it about whether or not college squash needs to address the problem of having the players officiate matches, something unique - and in TigerBlog's opinion, difficult to understand - to the sport.

Instead, it's about the fact that had this been not that long ago, the pressure on Trinity and Yale to address the situation would have been a fraction of what it was. Why?


Everything today is on video. It's everywhere. It's on someone's cell phone. It's on a video camera that is barely visible in your hand. Everyone has a camera, and everyone is using it.

This creates new problems for every aspect of society, including college athletics, athletes and athletic departments. You can go to youtube and search for virtually anything and find some video of someone caught doing something.

And the last thing you want that search to turn up is one of your athletes doing something that makes the school, the program, the coach, the athlete and everyone else look bad.

What can you do about it? Nothing. Incidents in sports have been happening since sports first were played. TigerBlog has read dozens of stories about unruly fan behavior at Princeton events in the 1800s, let alone the last two centuries.

Had there been youtube back then, who knows what might have turned up.

Princeton spends a great deal of time and effort in providing its athletes with guidance in terms of the value of sportsmanship, representing the University properly, understanding consequences of bad behavior and many other issues. The best way to deal with having something bad happen is to prevent it in the first place.

It's not easy being a college athlete. You're usually 18-22 years old. You can perform athletically on a high level. You're representing the University in a very public way. It's easy to see what grade - the score - each contest is getting.

And you're doing all this out in front of a crowd who is there largely because of the entertainment value. Often, the crowd, especially on the road, begins the taunting early and is relentless.

In many ways, it's amazing that there aren't issues like the squash one to deal with every day and not just every now and then. With all of the pressure building up at these events, it's just a matter of time until something boils over.

And when it does, someone will be there with camera in hand to catch it.

And ultimately, it'll end up everywhere. Hopefully, it won't happen to a Princeton athlete or coach.

After all, you'd rather be on PTI for making an 80-foot shot or scoring a ridiculous goal than for taunting a kid from Yale.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Since we are on the subject of video capturing unfortunate behavior at sporting events, is there video available of players on the Yale football team crossing the 50 yard line and taunting the Princeton team during warm-ups? And of both benches emptying for the coin toss? Coach Hughes referenced this in his report on the game to the PFA. I understand the Yale football coach apologized to his alumni boosters for some of the behavior of his team at Princeton. One of his guys was ejected for an egregious personal foul on the opening kickoff.