Culture and Politics vs. Excellence

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Former NFL Quarterback Kurt Warner writes of a few current out-of-favor counterparts that past coaches have let them down:

As we can see when we look at [Colin] Kaepernick and [Robert Griffin III], they never had to worry about not being the best athlete on the field. Where many of us lose that tag in high school or college, these guys have been able to sustain it all the way to the NFL.

Sounds like an incredible blessing, and of course to some degree it is, but it has delayed their overall growth and remains the main reason they are continually struggling at the NFL level.

Many of these guys have never been taught how to play the position the way it has to be played against the best athletes in the world. They have always been taught the basics, but then been encouraged when things didn't look right to "Do what you do."

But it has finally caught up to them, just as it did the rest of us.
My first impulse is to blame this short-sighted "coaching" on the insidious influence of the philosophy of Pragmatism, and this is correct, but...

I have to admit that in the current, largely state-controlled system of athletic development, which is grafted onto our educational system, there is no inherent long-range incentive for a coach at a lower level to think beyond the next few seasons. In that context, "Do what you do," makes some sense, and drills like the one Warner extolls are arguably a waste of time. Only a more capitalistic system, such as the academy system used by some professional soccer clubs or perhaps a farm club system, as in baseball, would better lend itself to coaches having a vested interest in player development. This would be no guarantee -- some coaches would still see winning games in the short term as what "works" -- but it is clear from this mundane example that bad culture and improper government can and do affect every aspect of our lives. In this case, most of us merely lose out on some entertainment, but a few very talented athletes out there are really getting shafted.

-- CAV


Anonymous said...

Hey Gus:

This was an interesting post. Kurt Warner was a favorite QB of mine. But I have been interested in the steady decline of many prominent QB in the NFL. I noticed the overall lack of skills. As Warner states athleticism only goes so far. Here in Chicago, we are dealing with one of the laziest, poorly performing QB, who was given a massive long term contract he did not deserve. And the Bears have had the worse five seasons ever.

I think the real culprit is the NCAA. I actually gave a Toastmasters speech on the NCAA. The organization is a complete sham. It was started by President T. Roosevelt as a quasi group, who wanted to save the reputation of football. There were so many deaths and catastrophic injuries, the American public was turning against it. It evolved in its current form with this notion of the "student-athlete" because colleges did not want to pay workers compensation from the injuries the "student-athletes" sustained. That was it. So there's the legal gymnastics that the NCAA uses to justify this nonsense. I believe sports should not be connected to higher education. As you point out there should be some kind of farm league, with their own teams where talent is properly cultivated.

Bookish Babe

Gus Van Horn said...


Thanks for writing in: I did not know -- although the information fails to surprise me -- why the NCAA was founded.