Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy and self-described "40-year old MAN" used his bully pulpit to respond to what he thought was an inappropriate attack on OSU quarterback Bobby Reid written by a female writer in the The Oklahoman. Gundy, apparently skilled at identifying unprofessional behavior in others, might have had made a stronger case had he not channeled Bobby Knight.
Gundy did pose an interesting question: Should the media refrain from criticizing amateur athletes?
Maybe the media should understand these are young, impressionable men, not quite ready for prime time. As Gundy reminds us, these are "amateur athletes" not "professionals." College sports is not life and death, although if there's an athletic department that has showed us the opposite, it's OSU. If Gundy had his way the media would treat college athletes age appropriately. Nice sentiment. But let's not forget that we have built a billion-dollar business on the backs of these amateurs. Is that age appropriate?
College sports is a competitive, sometimes ruthless, perhaps even vicious business. My guess is that every college quarterback knows the bargain: when things go well, they get the glory, and if they play poorly, they get criticized. Severely.
As the popularity of college sports increases so does the ink. Some of the coverage is welcomed; some of it crosses the line. It's unfortunate, but most famous athletes and coaches understand the bargain.
Connie Mack, who managed the old Philadelphia A’s for 50 years, understood the role of the media. He said, “When I entered the game, [sports] received only a few lines as news. These few lines extended into columns and pages. In ratio the crowds in our ball parks grew and grew and grew. News, like advertising, is a powerful momentum behind any enterprise. The professional sporting world was created and is being kept alive by the services extended by the press.”
Gundy should stick up for his players, but that doesn't mean he should publicly berate someone in the media who writes something critical. Gundy might benefit from some media training. Lesson 1: Don't argue with anyone who works for a company that buys ink by the barrel (great advice offered by Walter O'Malley).