Posted by mike in Religion,Sports at 10:26 pm on March 26, 2009

College sports are big business, and at the nation’s premier athletic schools, it’s exceedingly cutthroat. Fan expectations run correspondingly high, with most fanbases not having much patience when it comes to “rebuilding.” We’ve seen this with Notre Dame football and Ty Willingham, Indiana basketball and Mike Davis, and many other examples. The most recent coach at a big-name program to find himself on the hot seat is Billy Gillispie, who has coached Kentucky’s men’s basketball team for the past two seasons (he was preceded by Tubby Smith, who was coaxed to resign when he didn’t make enough Final Fours to live up to the fans’ standards, despite the fact that he’d won a national championship in 1998… as I said, high expectations).

After his second season at Kentucky ended with a loss to Notre Dame in the NIT, Gillispie was asked about his thoughts on how his performance will be judged, as word of a potential firing was already beginning to spread. He responded,

There’s only one judgment I’ll ever be concerned about, and I hope I pass that judgment. That’s the only one I’ll ever be concerned about, and I’m really proud that that’s the only judgment that will ever have a real effect on me, and I hope I pass that one with flying colors.

(Note that the ESPN article on the matter initially completely missed the point of the above quote, but they’ve since un-editorialized their version of it.)

The statement is obviously a reference to Gillispie’s religious beliefs, his feeling that the only judgment that matters, presumably, being the one that happens outside a set of brass gates that sit atop clouds and is passed by a really old guy with a long white beard. Or something along those lines. The irony is funny enough (he doesn’t plan on being judged on how he’s judged), the apparent belief being that whichever all-knowing weightless cloud-man will ultimately judge him, competence at his job will not be considered as a factor.

This type of hands-off approach to life is actually one that seems to be pretty prevalent among modern-day Christians. The teaching seems to be that, rather than taking an active role in what happens to you or those around you, it’s better to stay out of God’s way and let him do things as he knows best, without your interference. Megan receives forwarded emails encouraging her to adopt this stance from Christian friends of hers fairly frequently, and I always insist that she share them with me, not only because I find it dumb-foundingly amusing, but because it’s useful to remind myself that this is how a large percentage of Americans view the world. (As I try to spend my time with rational people more often than not, this is a sentiment that I occasionally fail to recognize as much as I should.) Here is an excerpt from one such email:

This is God. Today I will be handling All of your problems for you. I do Not need your help. So, have a nice day. I love you.

P.S. And, remember…
If life happens to deliver a situation to you that you cannot handle, do Not attempt to resolve it yourself! Kindly put it in the SFGTD (something for God to do) box. I will get to it in MY TIME. All situations will be resolved, but in My time, not yours.

(The odd capitalization is maintained from the original.)

Apparently people derive inspiration from such messages. I guess I don’t have too much trouble believing that, seeing as I’m really lazy and don’t like having to do things for myself, either (or even having to get off the couch, for that matter). That doesn’t lead me to believe that the solution to my problems is to ignore them and hope that magic will resolve them for me, though. Ignorance is truly bliss, I suppose.

As for Billy Gillispie, he seems to be in the perfect place… for the time being.

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1 Response to “Coaches Gone Wild, Part One”:

  • An update: Gillispie was, indeed, let go as Kentucky’s coach. Good thing the judgment of his superiors isn’t one he concerns himself with.