Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Love Him or Hate Him, Bobby Knight Was as Much an Educator as a Coach

Count me among those who were saddened by the news that Bobby Knight had stepped down as head coach of the Texas Tech Red Raiders Monday (2-4-08). It is unusual if not unheard of for a major college basketball coach to quit during the middle of the season, but perhaps such an occurrence was business as usual for Bobby Knight.
It is doubtful that any major college coach in America was as passionate, as demonstrative and as committed as Bobby Knight was to basketball and his players. Many pundits would not agree with me when I say that Knight was more interested in doing things right than in winning games, but let me make the case for the Bobby Knight haters.
While no coach in his right mind likes to lose a game, I believe that Knight was at least as interested in how his "kids" played as he was in whether they won or not. If his players applied what they learned from him, played their hearts out, left everything on the court and lost, I think Knight would have been better able to tolerate a loss.
Knight was no stranger to winning. When you win 902 games in a 42-year coaching career, you have little competition. Dean Smith of North Carolina has 879 victories to his credit, Adolph Rupp of Kentucky has 876 and Jim Phelan (Jim who?) of Mount St. Mary's in Maryland has 830. Smith is 76 and retired, Phelan is 78 and retired, and Rupp died 20 years ago. The next most wins-800-belong to the new first active coach on the list, Eddie Sutton, the 71-year-old coach of San Francisco.
Knight had 102 wins in 6 seasons at Army, where he became coach at 24. He had 662 victories and 3 national championships in 29 seasons at Indiana. He had 138 victories in 7 seasons at Texas Tech. He coached the USA to Olympic team to gold in 1984 at Los Angeles.
It is possible that thousands of basketball followers will now seize the opportunity to torch Bobby Knight for his well-known outbursts over the years. There must be enough licensed Bobby Knight haters to fill the largest Super Bowl venue. I am not one of them Knight's son Pat, an assistant on his Texas Tech staff, has replaced him. Pat Knight was named the Red Raiders coach-designate in 2005.
Indiana University kicked Bobby Knight out for "a pattern of unacceptable behavior", but only after his Knight-trained players had won 3 national titles for Indiana and the 1975-1976 club went 32-0, the last Division 1 men's team to finish undefeated (something even the New England Patriots could not accomplish this year). Bobby Knight's "antics" are well documented for those who want to revel in his shortcomings as a public relations agent.
Less well documented is the fact that in 42 years of coaching he never got into trouble by breaking any NCAA rules and regulations, and trust me when I say that the NCAA rule book rivals the Internal Revenue Service code for picky, annoying crap.
Less well documented is the fact that Bobby Knight's players always had a high graduation rate; Knight made them toe the mark. Show-offs and prima donnas had no place on Knight's teams. Knight was all about playing the game right and teamwork. Less well documented is the fact that Bobby Knight gave his salary back a few years after he arrived at Texas Tech because he did not think he had earned it.
Some pundits and fans have already said that Bobby Knight was a great coach and a poor role model, and offer John Wooden of UCLA as a great example of a great coach and a great role model. Do I think Wooden was a better role model than Knight? Yes I do.
Wooden's success at Pauley Pavilion has made him the gold standard among America's most successful coaches in basketball and really any sport. Wooden's teams won 10 national championships-7 in-a-row from 1967 through 1973-and from 1971 to 1973 won an unprecedented 88 consecutive games, a record many sports pundits consider unbreakable.
John Wooden is the real deal, and he is also a very big deal. So let's weight in on what he had to say when hearing about Bobby Knight's surprise resignation Monday:
"I guess you can never be surprised at some of the things Bob does," said Wooden. "I don't think there's ever been a better teacher of the game of basketball than Bob. I don't always approve of his methods, but his players for the most part are very loyal to him. I would say that no player that ever played for him would not say he did not come out a stronger person."
Another of the nation's most respected coaches, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, who played for Bobby Knight at Army, said this about Knight's departure:
"Outside of my immediate family, no single person has had a greater impact on my life than Coach Knight. I have the ultimate respect for him as a coach and a mentor, but even more so as a dear friend. For more than 40 years, the life lessons I have learned from Coach are immeasurable. Simply put, I love him."
Bobby Knight not only won more games than any other coach in history, he also made his players better people and better able to cope with the challenges of life when they left the university with their degree in hand. So why am I saddened? Because Bobby Knight he will be more vilified than honored for what he did accomplish both on and off the court.
I say let him who has won 900+ games and never been in violation of the NCAA rules cast the first stones. The rest might consider the side of Bobby Knight that failed to get really positive coverage because his few failings were so dramatic and so public.
Bobby Knight is the kind of person people either like or dislike. I like Bobby Knight and respect him.
I believe his chief failing in some people's eyes is that he likely would have called a butt end by name, whether it was a critical university president, the meddling parent of a player, a disrespectful student or an unhappy janitor. I would do the same; I just would not do it as publicly, and I have not won a single game as a coach.
Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley
Ed Bagley's Blog Publishes Original Articles with Analysis and Commentary on 5 Subjects: Sports, Movie Reviews, Lessons in Life, Jobs and Careers, and Internet Marketing. My intention is to inform, educate, delight and motivate you the reader.
Editor's Note: Read my 5-Part series on Running: "Wheat Products and Sugar Can Be the 'Kiss of Death' When Trying to Lose Weight - Part 1", "How Lectins (Proteins in Foods) Are Very Negative in O Positive Blood Types - Part 2", Gluten in Wheat Products Bind to the Small Intestine Lining and Turn to Fat - Part 3", "How Popular Running Magazines Are Constantly Giving Very Poor Diet Advice - Part 4" and "There Is an Inescapable Correlation Between Weight and Cardiovascular Efficiency - Part 5".

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

An Education Long Overdue For Hugo Chavez

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez is not known for his political polish. When thinking of Chavez, the words hyperbole and bluster easily come to mind. The former tank commander often sounds paranoid about the possibility of his assassination or overthrow. In fact, in 2005 he made world news by telling the press that America was developing plans to assassinate him. The United States Department of State would reject his accusation as "wild."
Chavez was first elected President of Venezuela in 1998 and he has served two terms. He was elected on a platform of aiding Venezuela's poor majority. Since his election event, Chavez's government has moved Venezuela in an authoritarian direction. In speeches, he has often verbalized that he hates America, democracy, and capitalism.
In September 2006, Hugo Chavez delivered a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in which he referred to US President George W Bush as "the devil". He has also called Bush a "donkey because he (Bush) is very ignorant about the things that are actually happening in Latin America and the world".
In fact, Chavez's hatred for America runs so deep that he has endorsed the theory that the attacks of 9/11 were planned and carried out by the Bush administration as pretext for going to war. In recent years, Chavez has increased his relationship with the authoritarian governments of Cuba and Iran. He is now a close ally of Fidel Castro and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Venezuela is traveling down the road to an authoritarian government under the leadership of Hugo Chavez. Foreign Policy Magazine says that Chavez has "updated tyranny for today" and "is practicing a new style of authoritarianism". The article adds that Chavez has achieved absolute control of all state institutions that might check his power, and has unrivaled political control. The magazine notes that, more importantly, "Chavez commands the institute that supervises elections, the National Electoral Council" and says, "If democracy requires checks on the power of incumbents, Venezuela doesn't come close."
Hugo Chavez thinks that he knows how everyone should behave, eat, and think. Indeed, he thinks he knows what's best for everyone. However, Chavez uses the politics of his moral crusade to enhance his own personal power and prestige. In effect, Chavez is a real life rogue dressed as a moral, political, father figure in Venezuela.
Chavez has been using his consolidation of power to dictate his version of acceptable behavior in Venezuela. He is using the government of Iran as a model to apply morals of behavior in his country as well. In September, 2007, Chavez went on a moral crusade against beer, whisky, luxury cars, and Barbie dolls. His government is heavily taxing beer, alcohol, cars, and artwork to discourage consumption by the people of Venezuela.
"We're one of the countries that consumes the most whisky per capita in the world. We should be ashamed," Chavez said recently on national television. "I'm not willing to continue offering dollars to import whisky in these quantities. What kind of revolution is this? The Whisky Revolution? The Hummer Revolution? No, this is a real revolution!"
Chavez also wants to discourage people from covering food with too much hot sauce. He wants people to exercise regularly and eat low-cholesterol foods. He wants parents to stop buying Barbie dolls and breast reconstruction surgeries for their daughters. He states: "Now some say, 'When my daughter turns fifteen years old, we're going to give her phony breasts.' What a horrible thing! It's the latest degeneration."
Chavez would like to be the President of Venezuela for life. He recently initiated and campaigned for a constitutional "reform" package that would have dramatically increased his power, removed presidential term limits, and moved the country further away from democracy. In an election setback for Chavez, the voters of Venezuela last month narrowly defeated the Presidents "reform" package. The result is that Chavez will not be able to seek reelection under the current constitution in 2012.
Maybe it was the Chavez tax on the beer and whisky. Maybe it was his tax on cars. Maybe it was the Barbie doll or the food or the lifestyle preaching. Whatever the reason, the election results showed that the voters in Venezuela have agreed with the King of Spain, Juan Carlos when he recently told Hugo Chavez to "shut up". This recent verbal exchange between Juan Carlos and Hugo Chavez came at the end of a government summit in Chile.
Maybe with these political setbacks, both inside and outside Venezuela, Hugo Chavez can learn to stop his political hyperbole and blustering long enough to listen. Indeed, for him it would be an education that is long overdue.
James William Smith has worked in Senior management positions for some of the largest Financial Services firms in the United States for the last twenty five years. He has also provided business consulting support for insurance organizations and start up businesses. He has always been interested in writing and listening to different viewpoints on interesting topics.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Financial Education

Imagine this... you are 18 and in the registration line for college. There is a sign up table for a credit card with a guaranteed approval of a $500.00 credit limit. They are even going to give you a Frisbee and a backpack (w/ their logo of course), at no additional charge.
Well, this is a deal; you don't have a credit card anyway. You are in college now, so of course you NEED one. Your parents have always been against them and have taught you to avoid credit card debt, so you figure you can handle it... after all, it's only a $500.00 limit.
Time passes, you charge and pay it off, and this process repeats. You are building a credit rating you tell yourself. Then one day in the mail a letter comes from the credit card company. CONGRATULATIONS! You have been awarded an increase of your credit limit... up to $2000.00. It appears that your ability to manage your credit has paid off.
This pattern continues and you are now a 22 year old senior in college. Another letter comes in the mail and it says that your credit limit is now up to $20,000.00, and that $10,000.00 can be used as a "cash advance". Better yet, there are NO FEES for 1 year on cash advances, and that they have included 3 cash advance "convenience checks"... in case you have an emergency. Another nice perk is that there are no payments or interest for 3 months.
You think to yourself... "This couldn't have come at a better time", because you are between jobs so money is tight, and your car transmission is slipping regularly... a loud knocking sound as you accelerate from a stop sign. Come to think of it, the power window on the driver side won't go up well, and there is a noisy exhaust leak. Oh, you need new tires too... and a tune up for that matter.
You decide to have everything on the car fixed by using the cash advance check, and you even paid off the last $3500.00 that you owed on the car. You convinced yourself that this would be alright and you could lower your insurance if the car was paid off.
You smile to yourself as you walk through the mall. You are proud that you are coming up with such a great plan. Money has always been tight, you are not one to use your credit card, but they are having great sales this time of year, and there is no interest on the credit card. "Why not"... you deserve it. $1000.00 dollars later you are sick to your stomach about the spending, but you did need some new cloths.
Your phone rings and it's the mechanic. He gives you the bad news. The transmission is only half the problem. The knocking sound was more than you expected. You need new CV joints, shocks, and the rear brake drums are bad too. Fine... fix everything you tell them. Well, it's going to be tight, but that will max out the cash advance. You were running with a few thousand dollar balance anyway, so now you are getting concerned.
Six months later, and to your surprise, you still do not have a steady job. You ended up putting your tuition and books on the card too at this point. They offered no special deal for that one... just a regular 18.7%. At this point you have too many student loans and you just want to get it done. It occurs to you that it is so much easier to pull that card out, than it ever was in previous years.
You look out the window a few weeks later. The mail carrier pulls away from your mail box out by the curb. As you walk back to the apartment, you are opening the envelope from the credit card company. Your stomach drops as fast as your jaw... 29.6% interest! What happened! There is also a $29 over limit fee, as well as a $29 fee for not making your payment on time. "Holy Cow"... I missed my payment? I must have forgotten.
Ladies and gentlemen this is a sad story of how the scenario plays out all over the world... ridiculously high fees and interest rates that go through the roof, when you hit a rough spot in life. Unfortunately, that is what they expect to happen eventually, and they are there to collect their fee's when you are eventually down on your luck. Multiply this by every college kid, young adult, young couple, as well as everyone else on the planet. You do the math. It means your money, in their pockets. And it is in their best interest, and their shareholders, to go after this business.
Look at it from the perspective of the credit issuer. If they can bait college kids, and get them into a scenario where they have a credit card, and then keep raising the limit, human nature says that in a pinch, we will take the bait, all of it. The statistics support this point of view, look at your family and friends, most of them will have a large balance and no plan for eliminating the debt.
There are many who believe that the consumer debt industry is too predatory, and from my point of view, it is hard to disagree with their evidence. Give serious consideration to avoiding consumer debt like the plague. The perceived value of "having it now" will cost much more than you realize. One missed payment, regardless of the reason, can start you down a path from which you can not easily return.