Archive for April, 2015

DANGERS OF CONCUSSIONS: Florida Law for Girls’ HS Lax Met with Heavy Resistance

I don’t know if you have ever seen a girls’ HS lax game, or if you have a daughter who plays the sport, but my two daughters both played right through HS and loved the sport. They still do.

But that being said, when I used to watch them play, it struck me as a potentially very dangerous sport. I mean, although the girls wear goggles and mouth guards, they DO NOT wear helmets like their male counterparts do. And especially when my girls were playing the sport when they were in middle school or on the JV team, the number of accidents that occurred were staggering: kids being bumped in the head by opponents’ sticks, lax balls bouncing off noggins, and even the occasional scrum when one falls to the ground and suffers a concussion. In short, as a sports parent, it makes you hold your breath.

That’s why I was amazed when I heard that the state of Florida, where lax is still relatively new, had enacted a mandatory rule this spring where all female lax players at the HS level had to wear a protective headband during games. Now, in truth, the headband isn’t very big or thick, but it does offer a modicum of protection. It is definitely NOT a helmet, but it’s at least a start.

But the girls don’t want the headbands…

Yet there’s been a tremendous backlash to this seemingly innocent and well-intended measure. Women lax traditionalists have spoken universally of how there’s no need for this protective headband, that the sport is NOT like men’s lax, and that women’s lax is generally very safe — that it’s a game of speed and skills, NOT of physical contact. I even had my older daughter, Alyssa, who was a top scorer in HS in lax, come on the show, and she too didn’t see a need for this Florida law.

The callers, however – and especially the sports parents – all tended to share the same sentiments that I had – that this was a protective move, and from their perspective, it seemed to make a lot of sense. Recent statistics show that girls lax ranks fifth in terms of sports with concussions, right after football, ice hockey, girls soccer, XXX. In other words, why not do something to protect the girls, especially at the younger ages where their skills haven’t developed yet.

Here’s a suggested solution:

And as one caller suggested,”Why not make the protective head wear simply voluntary? That is, let the girl and her family decide whether they want to wear something to protect their head?”

That, to me, seems like a most practical and logical solution. Speaking as a sports parent, I might have urged my daughters to wear some sort of head protection when they played lax. I just don’t understand why there’s so much resistance to this Florida law.

ABUSIVE SPORTS PARENTS: What’s the Best Way to Handle Them?

Sparing Youth Leaguers Punishment For Their Parents’ Misconduct

By Doug Abrams

 

The Vancouver Island Amateur Hockey Association has had its fill of verbal and physical abuse dished out by unruly parents. Last month the association’s president told the Canadian Press that “F-bombs from mothers and fathers in the stands can fly faster than pucks on the ice.” Like other Canadian and American youth sports programs, the Vancouver association has suffered an exodus of veteran coaches and referees who are unwilling to continue corralling a few parents and absorbing their insults.  Headlines also report periodic acts of physical violence by Vancouver minor hockey parents. The father of one Vancouver pee wee hockey player says that “some of the parents are just nuts.”

The Vancouver association recently announced that next season, out-of-control parents will face sterner sanctions, including the family’s dismissal from the program in extreme cases. The Canadian Press reports that the association’s tougher stance has already won support and approval, both from other youth hockey programs, and from youth programs in other sports such as lacrosse and soccer.

Dismissing a family from a youth sports association is strong medicine because it removes the child from the roster, perhaps leaving the youngster no place else to play the organized sport. The Vancouver news story reminds us why associations, when they discipline disruptive parents, should make every effort to spare their children.

Individual Accountability and Concern For All

During my 11 years as president of a mid-Missouri youth hockey association, our relatively few parental disciplinary cases applied two guiding principles – “individual accountability” and “concern for all players and their families.” These principles would have supported a family’s dismissal from the association, but only as the last resort in the most serious cases. (Fortunately no such “last resort” cases happened.)

The first guiding principleindividual accountability holds each parent responsible for his or her own wrongdoing. Particularly at younger ages, children may mimic their parents or remain silent, but the child normally bears little or no responsibility for the elders’ misconduct. Sports associations should strain to discipline wayward parents without affecting a blameless player’s eligibility. Youth sports programs serve the youth; they do not serve the adults.

The second guiding principleconcern for all players and their families recognizes that relatively few abusive parents can ruin the experiences of the majority of families and increase the risk of avoidable injury to their children. I know some civil, sportsmanlike parents who hesitate to bring their younger children to games in various local sports because of what other parents do or say in the stands. When a few parents lead disgusted coaches hang up their whistles prematurely, all players also stand to lose valuable instruction drawn from years behind the bench.

What about the injury factor? In an earlier column (linked below), I explained that when parental abuse leads disgusted veteran referees to quit in droves, their less experienced replacements may not yet be ready. Particularly in contact or collision sports at older age levels, risk of injury increases when control of games depends on replacement referees who would not yet be on the field if more seasoned refs remained active.

The “Least Restrictive Remedy”

Faced with a parent’s violation, a youth sports association should strive to fashion an effective remedy that sanctions the wrongdoing in the way least restrictive on the family, and particularly on the young player.

The least restrictive remedy might require an apology from the parent, sometimes informally without the player’s knowledge.  A more restrictive remedy might suspend the offending parent from attending one or more practices or games.

The most restrictive remedy – the family’s dismissal from the association – might be appropriate in extreme cases because of the magnitude of the offense, its effect on other players and families, or the offending parent’s continuing failure to respond to the association’s pre-season sportsmanship seminars and similar preventive measures. But sports associations should handle dismissal gingerly, lest the normally blameless player be left as collateral damage, innocent but effectively forced to share accountability for the parent’s misconduct.

 

Source: Camille Bains, The Canadian Press, Put Abusive Parents in Penalty Box: Minor Hockey, http://www.durhamregion.com/sports-story/5477827-put-abusive-parents-in-penalty-box-minor-hockey/ (Mar. 15, 2015); Doug Abrams, “How Adults’ Abuse of Officials Endangers Player Safety” — http://24.124.64.148/askcoachwolff/2011/06/16/how-adults-abuse-of-officials-endangers-player-safety/).

TRENDS IN SPORTS: To Succeed in Sports, One Needs Talent AND Practice

A few years ago, there was a major bestselling book that came out entitled TALENT IS OVERRATED by Geoff Colvin, a well-known columnist for FORTUNE Magazine. The general theme, as you might imagine, is that talent isn’t necessary if you want to seriously improve and master a skill in life. Colvin talks about the importance of serious and deliberate practice if you truly desire to improve your skills. Along the way, he sprinkles in several case studies, and of course,discusses the need to put in 10,000 hours of concentrated and deliberate practice into making real improvement. I have no issue with any of that.

And for many readers and especially sports parents, this book helped to justify a life lesson that they have always felt. And it’s a lesson that they have passed onto their kids: that if you want to achieve a goal badly enough, then you just need to practice and practice and practice.

But the problem is…that’s just not true. Or at least as it applies to young athletes.

 Yes, if you practice your dribbling, or fielding a baseball, or shooting free throws, YES, you will improve and get better.

BUT  here’s the important catch: you will only get as good as your inherent God-given ability is.

In short, we are limited by what our innate talent is, and our talent will dictate just how far it will take us.

Let me give you an example:  when I was a kid, I played a lot of basketball, and I used to try and improve my leaping ability all the time. I would practice endlessly on a basketball court, hoping someday I could be good enough to dunk a basketball. I remember even wearing ankle weights for a full year to improve my leg and calf strength.

And indeed I did add some a couple of inches of height to my jumping. That was due to my endless practicing. But try as I might, I could never jump any higher. And of course, there was no way I could ever reach the jumping heights of a Michael Jordan. It just wasn’t in my genes.

No matter how long or how hard I practiced, I realized it wasn’t going to happen. I just wasn’t wired, or born, that way.  I reached my limit and no matter how much I wanted to jump higher, or how much more I practiced, I had topped out.

It’s the same with trying to throw a pitch 90 mph, or hit 400 foot homers or any other elite athletic skill.

Now, most kids discover their limits on their own. But sadly, a lot of them –whether to please one’s Mom or Dad or even to impress their coach –these kids just  continue to practice and practice. After all, they have fully accepted that if “I want it bad enough, I can achieve it through more practice.”

Coaches know all about this…because every coach has seen first-hand kids who are determined to make the team and to be a starter, but the coach can plainly see that while the kid has the drive, hr or she just doesn’t have the ability.

It’s hard and heart-breaking to cut a kid like this, but that’s the harsh reality of sports.

My suggestion? Yes, explain to your youngster that if they want to improve in sport, there’s no substitute for practice and more practice. That’s essential.

BUT you also need to caution them that practice will only let them reach their God-given plateau of ability…that is, they may peak in HS, or on a travel team, but only a few lucky ones who were born with extraordinary athletic ability will make it to a college team or beyond. They need to be warned that just more practice will not necessarily push them higher and higher into the collegiate or pro ranks.

This is NOT meant to discourage your kids from trying to achieve is to reach their full potential athletically. You want them to do that. But as one caller commented on my radio this AM, the aim here is for your athlete to “be all that they can be.” 

That catchphrase is right on target. Let them reach for the stars, but if they are meant to top out in middle school or high school, or wherever, that’s fine.

TRAVEL TEAMS: How USA Hockey Deals with Players Going from One Team to Another

In light of the lawsuit that was brought a few weeks ago by the 16-year-old volleyball player who sued her travel team in Virginia because they wouldn’t release her to play for another travel team, I was curious as to how other major travel team organizations handle these kinds of requests.

To that end, I spoke with Jayson Hron, who serves as the youth hockey communications manager for USA Hockey, which of course runs all sorts of travel teams. Traditionally, in my opinion, USA Hockey sets the gold standard when it comes to being proactive in youth sports.

Here’s Jayson’s recap of how USA Hockey deals with kids who want to leave one team for another. Feel free to share this with your son’s or daughter’s travel team board of directors:

Player development is Paramount

USA Hockey wants every player to have the optimal development opportunity. One major component of that is sufficient playing time for all. Children don’t improve by sitting on the bench, so naturally USA Hockey wants every child to be in a situation that provides sufficient playing time.

Rules and Contracts

Dec. 31 is the roster-freeze date for national-tournament bound teams in USA Hockey. This roster freeze exists to discourage mid-season attempts to aggregate players (recruit them from other teams) with the sole purpose of creating a “super team” for national tournament competition.

Sometimes, but not all the time, individual clubs could take this a step further with one-season “contracts,” but they don’t necessarily restrict player movement. Rather, they could require that the parent(s) pay all or some of the season’s fee in exchange for release of the player. This is done to protect the other players’ parents from unexpected cost hikes and chaos due to the in-season departure of a player from the roster.

At the conclusion of each season, every youth player is a free-agent.

 Due Diligence Matters

USA Hockey encourages parents to use due diligence when they explore playing options for their child. Ask questions and get all the details to ensure that the program they ultimately choose will be the right fit for their child. Look for teams that offer age-appropriate training and competition, trained and screened coaches, and a program philosophy based on long-term athlete development.

 

TRAVEL TEAMS: Volleyball Player Ends Up With Lost Season; Ends up Suing Travel Team

I received a number of emails this past week about a most unusual lawsuit regarding a 16-year-old volleyball player who is suing her travel team because they won’t let her play for another travel program.

This case is most troubling, and speaks to the power – and the common misunderstandings – regarding travel teams and the kinds of restrictions they can place on unsuspecting players.

Here’s what happened…..a 10th grader from Virginia, Audrey Dimitrew, tried out and made a local travel volleyball team back in November.  The coaches of the travel team apparently told the girl that she had the potential to play volleyball in college, and that she would get “significant” tournament game experience  — playing time — as one of the two setters on the team.

Encouraged by this, Audrey – who had also made several other travel teams – decided to join this particular travel program.

But as the season unfolded, Audrey found herself more and more on the bench. When she asked, the coaches told her that she was not as talented as they had first thought. Faced with this dilemma, Audrey asked if she could move to one of the other teams she had made. Her coaches said yes, and sure enough, Audrey did find another team that would take her.

Promises that didn’t come through

But then the travel league board of directors stepped in, and vetoed this move. They pointed out that their league rule book  said that a player could only transfer to another team if there’s a “verifiable hardship condition.” Based on that phrase, the league stopped Audrey from joining another team.

Their argument was that if they allowed Audrey to jump simply due to a lack of playing time, then that would open the door to lots and lots of other players who had issues with playing time, also wanting to jump teams. The league didn’t want that to happen. In short, Audrey was denied.

So, in sum, here’s a girl who was told that she had college potential and would definitely get a lot of playing time on this travel volleyball teams — only then to be told that she really wasn’t that good….and then, with her coach’s blessing, she finds another team to play for….except that her original travel team league blocks that move.

Audrey and her family brought a lawsuit against the Chesapeake Regional Volleyball Assn a few weeks ago, and this is not a frivolous lawsuit. Unfortunately, a circuit court judge ruled against Audrey, citing that the travel team she was playing for was a “private association,” meaning that it’s not bound by any state or federal laws, and that the league’s board can pretty much put its own rules into place.

Look out for the fine print!

WFAN legal analyst Steve Kallas explained all of this today on the radio show, and drew a comparison to Augusta National Golf Club, which is also a private association. Augusta, where the Masters is played each April, didn’t have to admit women or any minorities due to its private status. Thankfully, their board has changed their very restrictive rules but did so only recently.

In any event, as Steve suggested, this volleyball case was a lose-lose as the girl lost pretty much an entire year of her volleyball experience, and the travel league ended up looking pretty selfish and dumb in denying her a chance to transfer. All of this could have been avoided if the league had insisted that Audrey’s situation was rare and indeed a hardship situation. If they had done that, and allowed her to leave, then none of this would have happened.

What’s the lesson here?

It’s another caution to parents about travel teams. Do your homework – and be especially careful if the travel team makes your child sign something in writing. Check out the fine print in that contract, and if there’s a league handbook, make sure you get a copy of that and review it before signing on the dotted line.

COLLEGE RECRUITING: Learning the Truth from a Former Division One Basketball Player

Nine Questions to Ask When Being Recruited for College Basketball

 By Noah Savage

 

On July 1st after a student’s junior year, coaches are allowed to have off-campus contact with you as a prospective student athlete. Prior to that, you may call a coach, and they can answer but they cannot call you back. Once they are allowed to call you, coaches are limited to one call per week.

If your high school athlete answers a recruiting call, here are the best questions for them to ask the coach:

  • Coach, have you seen me play in person?

Many coaches might be calling you due to a ranking, a list or another reason besides seeing you play in person. Coaches who are really serious about you will make the effort to see you play.

  • What do you think I do well on the court? What can I improve on and HOW can I go about improving on those areas or skills?

When I was being recruited in high school, I learned that Luol Deng, (the # 2 recruit in the country behind Lebron James at the time) would ask these questions of every coach in the country who called him or spoke to him in person. Not only is it a great way to learn from a college coach what to focus on, it also puts the right message forward about you: that you know you need to work on some aspects of your game. Just make you sure you have a pen and paper handy to take notes during the call.

  • How do you see me fitting into the team on offense and defense? What is your expectation of me? What positions or positions do you see me playing?

 If you’ve been playing guard / forward in AAU and high school and this college coach wants to park you on the block, maybe this isn’t a fit. Conversely, maybe you’ve been a 2-guard your whole life and the coach wants to develop you into a point guard.   Choosing a situation where you can be effective is paramount to success at the next level.

  • How many players currently do you have at my position on the team and what year do they graduate?

No matter where you go, you’ll have to compete in order to play, but you can make a better and more informed decision and can stay away from a situation where you’ll be buried until you are a senior if their best player is your position and is one year older than you.   You can also look at the team’s stats and see if the coach usually plays freshmen and sophomores or tends not to.

  • What is your style of play?

 This is a HUGE thing to consider. So much of success on the court (and off ) is the right player for the right situation.  If you put an non-athletic shooter on a team that loves to press 40 minutes a game, he won’t perform very well. If you’re physically weak and the coach loves to pound it inside to his strong bigs, you’ll either need to put on 25 lbs of muscle or get out of the way.   Either way, the coach will probably explain this in conjunction with how it relates to how you play.

      o   How many players are you recruiting at my position, and if you feel comfortable telling me, where do I fall in terms of your top recruits?

 This is a question you probably don’t want to ask during the first conversation, but can be incredibly useful later in the process. I personally had two Division 1 coaches tell me that they were offering other guys, but if those other fellows didn’t take the scholarships, they would offer me. The other guys took the scholarships and the rest is history, but who knows if these coaches were being genuine.

  • Coach, are you offering me an official visit?

Student athletes can take five expenses paid by the school as official visits during their senior year of high school. Please note that it is extremely rare that the school will offer you a scholarship or a spot on the team if they are not offering an official visit first. If the coach says no, then that may just mean they are not offering you one yet.

Coach, I am seeing some schools on unofficial visits this summer… can I come see your campus and facilities?

 A prospective student athlete can see meet with the coaches (men’s basketball excludes the dead periods and the month of July) and can see the campus at the expense of the family of the athlete.

Coach, are you offering me a scholarship?

 Obviously, this is a question you ask after developing a relationship with the coach after months of contact and (usually) an official visit.   Again, this is a late in the game question but it might help you decide to go with a sure thing rather than go to a college that is still potentially on the fence about offering you.

Coach how much are you going to pay me? Where can I pick up my car?

         Just kidding, don’t ask this.

 

 

NOAH SAVAGE, a 6-7 All-Ivy sharpshooter, served as the captain of the Princeton University basketball team in 2007-2008, and then played professionally in Europe. Highly-recruited out of high school, Savage has served as the on-air voice of the Tigers for the last five seasons.

SPORTS PARENTING TRENDS: Two Cases of Special Needs Athletes — Two Very Different Outcomes

A Tale of Two Cities: Special Needs Athletes and the High School Varsity

By Doug Abrams

 

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, . . . it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness.”

— Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859).

* * * * *

In the past month or so, I recalled Dickens’ classic opening lines when I read about how differently two students with Down syndrome were treated in two cities more than 700 miles apart. The first story – from Kenosha, Wisconsin – reported wisdom by a courageous middle-school basketball team. The second story – from Wichita, Kansas — reported foolishness by a high school’s administrators after one parent lodged a complaint.

Wisdom in Kenosha, Wisconsin

In my March 17 column, I wrote about a basketball game at Kenosha’s Lincoln Middle School. The eighth-grade Lincoln players saw fans verbally abusing one of their cheerleaders, Desiree Andrews, who has Down syndrome. The abuse was happening (perhaps not for the first time) right under the noses of adult coaches and other school officials, who evidently did nothing to stop it. That was when the players took matters into their own hands, halting the game and approaching the stands together to stop the bullying of their classmate.

“The kids in the audience were picking on Dee, so we all stepped forward,” Lincoln Middle School player Chase Vazquez said later. “We walked off the court and went to the bullies and told them to stop because that’s not right to be mean to another person,” teammate Miles Rodriguez told Fox & Friends. “It’s not fair when other people get treated wrong,” teammate Scooter Terrien explained to WTMJ-TV, because “we’re all created the same.”

By protecting a seemingly easy target who was no match for bullies, the Lincoln middle school basketball players took action uncommon among students their age. Sooner or later, most school bullying happens in front of student onlookers, but few onlookers intervene on a victim’s behalf or report the bullying. Onlookers are much more likely to avoid associating with the victim, or even to join the bullies in an effort to boost social position or to avoid being targeted themselves.

One study found that 85% of school bullying incidents had student onlookers, but that onlookers intervened to protect the victim only 10% of the time. The Kenosha middle school basketball players joined the ranks of the 10%.

Foolishness in Wichita, Kansas

Contrast the Kenosha story with one from Wichita, Kansas. Nineteen-year-old Michael Kelley, a Wichita East High School student, does not let Down syndrome or autism dampen his love for basketball. He plays on the school’s team for special needs students, which competes against similar teams fielded by about 14 other high schools. Unlike at least one other area high school, Wichita East denies members of special needs teams an opportunity to earn varsity letters because the school does not recognize these teams as holding varsity status.

Michael’s mother recently bought him a varsity jacket, which he was asked to remove when he wore it to school. The request reportedly came after a complaint lodged by one varsity athlete’s parent. Michael was handed a sweatshirt to wear instead, and his story went viral.

Social media commentary has overwhelmingly condemned the high school’s position. Varsity athletes across the nation have reportedly shown support for Michael by sending him their own varsity letters and letter jackets. Classmate Libby Hastings, a Wichita East girls’ varsity soccer team member, began a nationwide online petition supporting him. The petition has gathered more than 40,000 signatures. “Michael works as hard as I do, shows just as much passion, and loves our school deeply,” she wrote. “He deserves to be awarded a varsity letter just as much as I do.”

Access and Participation

The Kenosha and Wichita stories remind us that as America continues moving toward greater inclusion of persons with disabilities, much work remains to enlighten some people’s attitudes.

The U.S. Department of Education says that “access to, and participation in, extracurricular athletic opportunities provide important health and social benefits to all students, particular those with disabilities.” For many special needs students, access and participation mean membership on school teams that are open to all students selected by coaches after tryouts and evaluation. For other special needs students, such membership is inadvisable or impossible; school-sponsored special needs teams become viable alternatives for channeling love of the game, devotion to self and team, and willingness to work hard.

When a school allows athletes to earn varsity letters for playing on special needs teams, the school does not devalue the letters won by other athletes, such as the son or daughter of the Wichita parent complainant. The accomplishments of the other athletes remain intact, and so does the honor that the letter bestows on them.

The key word here is “earn.”  Special needs students need no handouts or gratuitous recognition. When they play on a team that represents the school, however, they deserve the opportunity to fulfill school-adopted lettering requirements that recognize their athletic accomplishments, including their perseverance to surmount obstacles unknown to other students. Perhaps that is one reason why, as KSNW-TV reports, Satanta High School (Satanta, Kan.) is sending Michael an honorary varsity letter and manager’s pin.

If any doubt remains about whether special needs students deserve opportunities to earn varsity letters, public schools should resolve that doubt in favor of the national policy that maximizes inclusion of special needs citizens in the American experience. In youth sports and other daily endeavors, maximized inclusion grounded in reasonable accommodation is best for the special needs citizens, best for the community, and best for the nation.

Light and Darkness

To borrow from the opening lines of A Tale of Two Cities, the Kenosha and Wichita stories contrast a “season of Light” and a “season of Darkness.” So far, Wichita East administrators have reaffirmed the no-varsity-letters policy, but the firestorm of protest and condemnation may have prodded them to re-examine the policy by the end of the school year. Until then, these administrators face a national and local student-led backlash fueled by their own evident unwillingness to reject one parent’s complaint.

As Wichita East High School’s officials seek a compass, the Kenosha middle school basketball players’ story can steer them in the right direction. The middle schoolers’ story can also reorient the solitary Wichita parent complainant, whose pride in the varsity letter jacket worn by the family’s athlete doubtlessly knows no bounds.

 

Sources: Middle school basketball players defend bullied cheerleader, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/wisconsin-middle-school-basketball-players-defend-bullied-cheerleader/ (Mar. 12, 2015); Players leave court mid-game to confront bully of cheerleader with Down syndrome, http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/03/13/players-leave-court-mid-game-to-confront-bully-cheerleader-with-down-syndrome/ (Mar. 13, 2015); Deneen Smith, Welcome to D’s House, Kenosha (Wis.) Times, Mar. 9, 2015; Andy Isaac, One Parent’s Complaint Caused a Special Needs Student to Lose His Varsity Letter, http://uproxx.com/sports/2015/03/michael-kelley-varsity-letter/ (Mar. 28, 2015); KTLA 5, High School in Kansas Tells Down Syndrome Student to Stop Wearing Varsity Jacket, http://ktla.com/2015/03/30/high-school-strips-special-needs-student-of-varsity-jacket/ (Mar. 30, 2015); Cindy Boren, After Asking Special Needs Student to Remove Letter Jacket, Principal Defends His Actions, Washington Post, Mar. 30, 2015; Lindsay Cobb, Schools Reach Out to Special Needs Athlete, http://ksn.com/2015/03/27/schools-reach-out-to-special-needs-athlete/.

COPING WITH ADVERSITY: Kentucky’s Andrew Harrison’s Post-Game Comments Totally Disgraceful

Yes, I’m quite certain that Kentucky guard Andrew Harrison was angry, upset, and disappointed that his basketball team had just lost in the Final Four to a more talented, better coached, and more poised Wisconsin team. That loss, of course, ruined the Wildcats’ run to a perfect season.

But of course, that’s both the beauty as well as curse of athletics. It’s why the games are played.

So I understand that this loss – the first for Kentucky this season – must have been devastating. But all that being said, why in the world would he mutter under his breath – in front of an open microphone – a reference to Wisconsin star Frank Kaminsky as “F*** that n*****.”

Why? Has Harrison never lost a game before? Or does he always react to losses with not only profanity,but also a racist comment?

Yes, it’s true that once the press conference ended, UK officials immediately had Harrison reach out to Kaminsky and apologize over the phone. He also tweeted his apology several times.

But still…

Teachable moment? This is no 13-year-old. This is supposed to be a young man in college who knows something about adversity. And speaking of college, where was Coach Calipari in all of this?

The last I heard, the University of Kentucky had issued a statement that they were still investigating the audio. Huh? By now, I’m quite sure millions of fans all over the country have seen and heard the nasty comment. So why is Coach Calipari taking so long to apologize on behalf of his star player, and by the way, Coach, what’s the punishment for your player? Or is the phone call to Kaminsky and a couple of tweets make it all good again?

Coach, here are some punishments: have Harrison write a national apology about what he said, and get it posted in USA TODAY or the Wall Street Journal. Or have him do some meaningful community service to help show that he fully understands the history of racism in this country.

All athletes know  – or should know – about coping with wins and losses. Adversity is the lifeblood of sports. It’s just incredible to me that an accomplished athlete like Andrew Harrison deliberately offended all basketball fans by making such a terrible and unnecessary comment.

What an awful way to end a terrific game. Classless. Totally classless.