Coach’s rant reflects need to defend amateur athletes

Thank you, Mike Gundy.For those of you who don’t know, Gundy is the head football coach of the Oklahoma State Cowboys who blasted a reporter earlier this week for questioning the toughness of his junior quarterback Bobby Reid.

Gundy ranted for about four minutes during a press conference about a column written by Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman.

“That article had to have been written by a person that doesn’t have a child,” Gundy said, “and has never had a child that has had his heart broken and come home upset …”

As a journalist who dreams of becoming a sports writer, as a sports fan and as a pretty good armchair quarterback, I can be quick to judge coaches and players whom I feel don’t make the correct calls or plays. One thing that is difficult for us to realize, however, is these players and coaches are humans too.

Humans make mistakes, and then we learn from them, which is one thing that makes humans great.

Many journalists are up in arms about Gundy’s outburst, but I can respect Gundy’s outburst on multiple levels.

I was one of the kids who was always picked last, who didn’t make the baseball team and was often the target of other people’s ridicule.

Finally, someone is standing up for the kids who aren’t professionals. They are still learning the game and still making mistakes.

At long last, a coach stands up for his players instead of saying, “we didn’t play well as a team,” when everyone listening knows all of the blame for the loss can be put on one player’s shoulders.

I also admire the coach’s speech because I am a coach too.

Albeit, I coach a 9- to 12-year-old YMCA baseball team instead of a Division I program.

I see my kids two or three times a week and some of them flourish during the two months I work with them. But others just can’t get better. For those kids, it is important to make sure they have fun, make some friends and to continue to support their baseball dreams.

Another positive that could come out of Gundy’s explosion could be the way his team performs.

The rant came after an Oklahoma State 49-45 victory against the Texas Tech Red Raiders, one of their Big 12 rivals. Two questions arise.

First, what would have happened if the Cowboys had lost that barnburner? And second, how will this team react?

One of the most important things to an athlete is confidence – whether it’s a player’s self-confidence or the confidence of a coach in his or her players.

I know in little league, I tended to play better the higher I was in the lineup or if I was starting in the field. I also notice my kids play better if they don’t get “stuck” in the outfield all game.

The Cowboys need all the confidence they can muster playing in the Big 12, one of the toughest conferences in college football.

I learned a lot from Gundy’s outburst and I hope coaches everywhere and of all levels know it is okay to support your kids – even if they goof up every so often.