Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Washington Post column -- College coaching can be hazardous to one's health

Tuesday's column for the Washington Post:

Like millions of others, Syracuse basketball Coach Jim Boeheim watched the extraordinary finish of the Michigan State-Notre Dame game Saturday night. After the Spartans had won 34-31 in overtime on an audacious fake field goal attempt that they turned into a touchdown, Boeheim kept his TV on to watch the postgame interview with Michigan State Coach Mark Dantonio.

"I remember thinking as I watched, 'For a guy who just won an unbelievable game, he doesn't look too good,' " Boeheim said on Monday afternoon. "He almost looked a little bit sick."

As it turned out, Dantonio was sick. Several hours later, he was in the hospital, having surgery after suffering a heart attack. Michigan State is describing it as a "mild" heart attack. There is no such thing as a mild heart attack. Dantonio, 54, was very lucky.

"Sometimes you can be fit and in shape, and it happens to you anyway," South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier said. "There are no guarantees in coaching except if you don't take care of yourself, you're almost guaranteed to have something happen. That's why I work out five days a week all year round. I've done it for as long as I've been coaching."

Coaching, especially on the so-called big-time level, is one of the more stressful jobs going, in part because there are limited opportunities each year to succeed (or fail) and in part because you are being judged by an unforgiving public every time your team goes out to compete. Coaches tend to keep crazy hours in-season. They often eat late at night, and they don't eat a lot of salads. 

Fifteen years ago Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams missed four games late in the season after being rushed to the hospital with pneumonia. As sick as he felt, he might not have gone if his trainer, J.J. Bush hadn't insisted on it.

Click here for the rest of the column: Coaching can be hazardous to one's health


steveM said...

Nice article. Now a question for you...Why was WPL shortened down to 1/2 hour? Many topics are being excluded & the ones commented on make show sound like a sound-byte forum due to limited time.

Gordon said...

Here is my advice to ALL division 1 coaches. GET OVER YOURSELVES! Pressure and stress... GET REAL! They are coaches who get paid incredible amounts of money and often make more by failing than being successful. Just ask Charley Weiss. And when they are fired they always seem to get hired someplace else. John Calapari had not one but two final fours and regular seasons vacated and he got a BETTER job. And yes i know Cal did not get fired from either UMass or Memphis. His predisesor at Kentucky got millions to go away and he did get fired. I'm sure"the ole ball coach" had a lot of stress and pressure cashing Dan Snyders checks after being fired by the Redskins.

If you want stress and pressure let them try being a cop, fireman or doctor. I'm guessing answering a door and not knowing if your going to get shot is stress. And pressure is having a persons life in your hands or fighting a fire knowing you could be burned to death.

We all pray for Mark Dantonio to make a full recovery but lets keep things in perspective. Lots of professions have more pressure and stress and with far fewer benefits.

They are coaches for god sake. BIG DEAL!

Anonymous said...

Geez, John, it's been a while since I've seen your Post headshot. They made you look like Bill Haley with that swirly hair effect. :) Seriously, nice article about the coaches. If football is like corporate life, a lot of those extra coaching hours achieve diminishing or zero returns. Maybe the NCAA can regulate that, which might actually prove beneficial.