How Should Sports Answer the Question That Calhoun Dismissed?

The question touched a raw nerve.  Some argue that it was out of line and out of place at a basketball press conference.  Others are stunned that a non-journalist, activist, law school student did the asking.  How dare he?  Still more wonder why UConn basketball coach Jim Calhoun lost his cool and went ballistic.

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The question was essentially: Should Calhoun take a pay cut from his multi-million dollar salary as Connecticut’s highest paid government worker, while the state faces a huge budget shortfall during the nation’s worst economic crisis?

Calhoun, doing his best Bob Knight impersonation, answered by telling the “reporter”,  Ken Krayeske, to shut up, and then called him stupid.

A lot of folks in the sports world – including sports journalists – are blaming the messenger.   They say Ken Krayeske didn’t have the proper credentials and shouldn’t have been there in the first place.   Personally, I think that some reporters are angry that Krayeske showed them up, by asking a question they would never dare ask.  Calhoun argued that he brings in millions of dollars in revenue to the University of Connecticut, and won’t give “a dime back” from his salary.  And he has many supporters of this rationale, including journalists who wear the proper credentials.

So no, I don’t think the question is out of line at all.  And now that we’ve had a few days to see Calhoun’s response for ourselves and ponder even more, the reality of a what an economic downturn really means, the tide may be turning.  Yesterday, Connecticut’s governor called Calhoun’s nasty response to the question an “embarrassing display”.

The fact is Calhoun could have answered in a civil manner and acknowledged the seriousness of the times with respect and compassion.  After all Jim Calhoun is not being hurt by the economy, but many who support his team and pay for tickets and tuition are.  As a result he came off as arrogant and out-of-touch.

One thing for certain – the question will be asked again.  Maybe not to Calhoun, but to others in the sports universe.  Maybe it will be phrased like this: What are you willing to sacrifice while millions lose their jobs and others struggle to pay their mortgages?  How will those sports figures respond?  The global economic crisis now has Greg Norman suggesting that golfers take a cut in prize money.

Yes, sports are important, and they offer much needed diversions, escapes from sometimes harsh realities. Sports stars play a significant role in improving the quality of our lives.  But now its time for them to consider how they can do even more.   Sometimes more means taking less.

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4 Responses to How Should Sports Answer the Question That Calhoun Dismissed?

  1. […] more here: How Should Sports Answer the Question That Calhoun Dismissed? Rate this topic: (No Ratings Yet) Tagged with: [ calhoun, coaches, college, connecticut, economy, […]

  2. Kevin M. Briscoe says:

    In a general sense, public figures often take a position on issues outside of their recognized purview (i.e., entertainers testifying before Congress on pet issues; athletes endorsing politicians, etc.). Thus, I take the position that, given the economic climate and air of austerity across the country, the “reporter” was well within his rights to question Calhoun’s salary in relationship to the state’s budget crisis. People everywhere are being challenged by hard times and some are making hard choices. Whether Calhoun feels compelled to give back “not a dime,” is his choice, especially given his perceived or real value to the University of Connecticut. He certainly could chosen to not respond or display a little diplomacy in his answer.

    Others can argue if the “reporter” was properly credentialed. But, he was in the room; apparently he satisfied some basic requirement to be allowed to ask his question.

  3. ALee says:

    Having covered numerous post-game sessions when I was in sports, I find the “reporter’s” question totally out of bounds in the setting where it was asked.

    You only have so much time to question a coach after a game and for those beat reporters who have to file stories with their newspapers or get post-game for air, the process becomes very difficult when an outsider de-rails the process. If this guy wanted to go “off-topic” he should have scheduled time through UConn’s sports information office to interview the coach. Or at the very least, if he still felt compelled to ask the question, he should have waited until the end of post-game when either the coach or SID asks “Are there any more questions?”

    Now, I’m not excusing Calhoun because as a veteran coach he should have conducted himself better. A simple “I’ll be be happy to answer your question, but this isn’t the platform for it,” would have been enough.

    • David Burnett says:

      Yeah I will agree it may not have been the best forum for the question, but Calhoun should have kept his cool and provided answered anyway. As it was the story became as it should be his classless response. Reporters of any kind – freelance or otherwise – are going to ask questions. That’s what they do. Bottom line Calhoun and others in the same position must be prepared for any question and respond to the question with class. But the subject of well-paid coaches, executives and other well-compesated leaders juxtaposed to folks struggling in a down economy is not going away anytime soon.

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