We live in an “Entitlement Era.” There are clear reasons why Oregon’s football team is mediocre and its basketball team is under-performing. A MAJOR reason why they are not the best that they could be is a profligate persistent problem of throwing $$$ at athletics to achieve championships. Thanks, Uncle Phil, and other big donors, for the lavish contributions. How is that working for the Ducks?
Simply put, recruiting is an ugly, oft-times shady, compromised process. Promising the moon and a lavish lifestyle, begging and cajoling athletes to come to Eugene to “play,” is the norm now. Sickening, isn’t it, all that bling, swag, largess and rock star mentality?
Here’s a diagnosis: TPAS, an acronym for The Pampered Athlete Syndrome.
Media shills only make this problem worse. Hype is a four-letter word that fans are sick of hearing. Achievement highs are not happening at Oregon, but hype certainly is.
Where is the hunger, the will to get hands dirty, to make major sacrifices to achieve greatness? Championships seem nearly impossible when being immersed in this culture, despite being surrounded by the absolute best facilities in the country. Fawning over players by coaches, fans, the media and a corrupt NCAA system, is counterproductive!
Please don’t retort that “everybody else is over-paying for coaches, facilities, support staff, administration and inflated fan ticket prices to get to the top.” Sheer nonsense. We have commented repeatedly about coaches and programs doing less with more. Think U$C and UCLA. Now add Oregon to the mix.
I am no troll throwing shade on Our Heroes. I bleed green and yellow, always have and always will. But geez, people, let’s step back and evaluate what a massive problem Oregon has built.
To quote Shakespeare’s Hamlet: “something is rotten in Denmark.” In this case, it is a surfeit of money and coddling of athletes. Incredibly too, both are producing unintended consequences — diminished results.
Athletes at Division 1 are skilled, physical and endure pain well. Here is where the pampered performer doesn’t quite measure up. When constantly surrounded by such comfort, top notch facilities, training regimes, terrific uniforms, equipment, tutors and deferential coaches falling all over themselves just to get top-flight athletes to commit, something “smelly” seeps into the performance processes.
A softer, entitled, coddled athlete develops. The hunger, the drive, the laser focus to achieve is diminished. Four- and five-star recruits, and players without the burning desire, the absolute will to win, are created. A player may just think that he won the lottery by becoming a Duck. Being surrounded by such a lavish lifestyle only reinforces the narrative that posh, cool, privileged and pampered players can produce, until they don’t or won’t.
Under-performance is the new norm. Lack of acuity, creativity and emotional fragility is promulgated. Coaches, sports psychologists, trainers, et al., acceding to every demand and whim a player desires, is revolting to us who live in the real world.
Mike Leach Is the Antithesis
Leach, who got sacked for “unfairly disciplining” one of his Red Raider players while at Texas Tech, does not pamper his players as other programs do. Leach’s book ‘Swing your Sword’ gives great insight into his mind and his relationships with his players. The Cougs are aggressive, innovative, fearless, even cocky, play with an edge and know how to win. Their drive is enormous and infectious. They, by all recent reckoning, in football have owned the Ducks like a “rented goalie!”
None of his players are highly rated star recruits, yet they play with an attitude and a raw edge. They try new concepts and techniques outside of established norms. The wins just keep coming in Pullman, too!
Look at Cal. Do you think the Ducks would care to trade the Bears’ roster for their own? Yet they improved as the season winded down, with far less talent. Justin Wilcox, an ex-Duck is coaching up his team, and they improved week by week. The Ducks would not want to play them now!
Ah for those days and wins by the boatload, again in Eugene. How?
Players with less bravado would be refreshing and a good start. Playing with greater intelligence and developing confidence is needed. It would seem when adversity strikes the athletes and the team, they develop the “chicken bone choke” syndrome, gagging their way to defeat! Sad.
Serious accountability is needed from players, coaches, support staff, administration and media, not merely platitudes and tepid praise for mundane performance. Incentivize everyone involved, but do it legally and ethically. Merit-based performance pay for coaches and administrators with baseline salaries is a great start. Entitlement is the antithesis of accountability.
The number of times one of the Oregon’s athletes postures on the field or court after one good play, and then gets beat for a first down — or touchdown — is too numerous to count. Or how about the chest pump or posturing for a block or three-point shot made, all the while getting beat back door or failing repeatedly to block out after a shot is taken? There should be consequences for poor performance!
These ideas may not fly, but why not give them credence? No more sickening losses to inferior but hungrier opponents. The current paradigm is NOT WORKING.
We demand high expectations, and are just not getting the bang for our buck. Change is needed and welcome.
Send those TPAS packing, or sit them on the bench with a clipboard, or even grant transfer requests for players lacking motivation. Get athletes here who truly want to pay the price to succeed.
Then teach them how to be successful without bravado!
Improve the coaching skill set; have them teach a sense of humility, drive and the absolute will to win that they currently seem to lack. Change is the only viable option.
Steven E Smith
Powell Butte, OregonNike Promo Featured Photo From Twitter
Bob Rodes, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is an IT analyst, software developer and amateur classical pianist in Manchester Tennessee.
Steve Smith was born and raised in Eugene, and has been attending games since 1957, and is a long time season ticket holder. He is an avid student of Duck football and basketball and is a retired Dentist currently living in Central Oregon. He loves his family, Ducks, golf, Toastmasters, his church community and this site.
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