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Winning isn’t the only thing

If it doesn’t matter who wins or loses, then why do they keep score?

-Vince Lombardi

Football, deflategate and the Super Bowl were the talk of the sports world this past week, and squeezed in was the troubling story about East St. Louis Flyers basketball coach Tony Young.

Young was suspended with pay after a YouTube video, now taken down, allegedly showed him verbally abusing his players and telling them to intentionally injure an opposing player. Some people wanted Young back behind the bench despite the allegations because removing him might jeopardize the team’s winning season.

This investigation has to play out. While the allegation of verbal abuse is disturbing, of even greater concern is the allegation that the coach told his players to injure an opponent. Even the NFL won’t tolerate that behavior, even from a Super Bowl coach.

In high school sports, winning is great, but it shouldn’t be so important that people would use a winning record as justification for overlooking a coach’s bad behavior. The point of athletics in school isn’t just to win games, but to teach bigger lessons that student athletes can apply throughout their lives: Hard work. Commitment. Discipline. Cooperation. Winning by any means, even violent means, shouldn’t be one of those lessons.

At what point does a coach’s yelling cross into verbal abuse? That’s a gray area subject to different interpretations. But calling for players to harm an opponent? Thas has no place in sports at any level. If the investigation concludes that Young did indeed do that, he should be out the door.