I know I always say that the Illini can’t catch a break; it’s become a second language for die-hard Illini sports fans like myself over the past, oh I don’t know, lifetime or so. But if anything, the spring offseason thus far has been far from fruitful for Lovie Smith’s newly-energized squad. A little more than a week after former-Freshman-phenom Mike Dudek tore his ACL, backup running back (and one of the more promising Tim Beckman recruits) Dre Brown also tore his, he announced in a Twitter post on Tuesday.
On the surface, this seems fairly normal for a brutal sport like football: two important offensive players out for the year in the first month of practice. It's excessive, but also a potential reality. But this month’s injuries to both players are their second ACL tear in as many years, potentially ending both of their football-playing careers, all due to a ligament in the knee.
So I guess now is the point where this starts to look more like a cosmic happening and less of a coincidence. I don’t know what we did to piss off the sports gods so much, but don’t you think we — Illini fans — have suffered enough by now? Can’t they find a bigger fish to fry or something?
In all seriousness, however, this makes it increasingly evident that Lovie Smith’s reign will start with a hampered roster and perhaps non-ideal players, and thus will probably be underwhelming from the get-go. The good news, however, is that we are Illini fans, and lately, it has become our duty to remain patient. One of these days, we’re going to catch a break. Maybe we have to wait 20 years, or maybe we’ll see more instant success, but this year is already starting on a sour note.
Growing up in Central Illinois when the only internet available in Monticello was dial-up was an interesting time. Being a kid and being into sports, my friends and I often turned to the News-Gazette’s sports section every morning to read game previews or box scores from the previous night. Through this, I learned to love Loren Tate, and his thoughtful commentary and long-standing commitment to Illini sports.
Perhaps that accentuated my surprise earlier this week when I read his comments about the ongoing struggle between athletes and coaches, both at the University of Illinois and elsewhere. In his article, Mr. Tate states:
“We’ve often seen male coaches treat men in a rough manner, but you simply can’t treat women that way. They hit the golf ball from different tees. The size of their basketball is smaller. They are different.
So the Bobby Knight approach, fashionable 20 years ago, is being forced out of style. We’re witnessing a changing world in which discipline-strict coaches are crashing into overly sensitive females ... with some hovering and overly protective parents weighing in. The results are predictable.”
Tate goes on to write:
“We might call this part of a larger national trend. College students in general tend to be easily upset and hypersensitive to criticism. Snarky instructors open themselves to backlash.”
First of all — and this just may be my blind Illini fandom — I’m pretty sure the “Bobby Knight approach” is a bad thing, though Tate seems to lament it. This guy got disciplined multiple times by the NCAA for continually stepping over the line, and that’s only the stuff that broke to the public. He threw a chair across the court. A chair! That’s not something a rational human does, that’s something an 8-year-old does when they don’t get a candy bar. It’s a temper-tantrum and indicative of just how unstable Bobby Knight was.
Next, Tate’s use of “overly-sensitive females” is insulting. It invalidates the claims of players whose words should have just as much weight as anyone's. What exactly is it that makes the discipline-strict coaches morally superior than a woman who feels she was slighted by a coach? Instead of critically attacking the people who claim to be victims, how about we evaluate this with rational thought instead of a “women differ from men” argument?
And then lastly, I take issue with the statement: “College students in general tend to be easily upset and hypersensitive to criticism.”
Talk about painting with a broad brush: Mr. Tate, as someone who just graduated from college in May, I can tell you with the utmost sincerity that college students are no different than you are. Sure, they see the world differently, and some are sensitive and some aren’t. You know, because we’re human beings.
Saying that all young people are easily upset is the equivalent of saying that all young people are unequivocally coddled, which has more basis in a Donald Trump rally than in the real world. So on behalf of young people, get out of here with that antiquated attitude. It’s insulting, it’s not rooted in any fact, and it doesn’t have any place in a newspaper column.
I’m still going to read Tate’s future columns, but it does pain me to see younger generations treated this way by society’s antiquated, and often, politically conservative sect. Just because we’re demanding change doesn’t mean we’re hyper-sensitive, it means we have evaluated situations and decided that things would be better if they were different. Things would be better if we were not mired in the a closed-minded past.
Harriet Tubman is going to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. This is a great idea, and I’m surprised it hasn’t happened sooner. Andrew Jackson was an asshole who massacred many and was a huge proponent of the forced removal of Native Americans from Florida. Harriet Tubman helped many achieve freedom from oppression at the risk of her own personal safety. She wins. If you oppose this, you’re wrong. Sorry.