Arrow-right Camera
Sports

Grip on Sports: As long as there is success, most fans are willing to give their favorites a pass

Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer makes a statement during a news conference in Columbus, Ohio, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018. Ohio State suspended Meyer  for three games for mishandling domestic violence accusations, punishing one of the sport’s most prominent leaders for keeping an assistant on staff for several years after the coach’s wife accused him of abuse. Athletic director Gene Smith was suspended from Aug. 31 through Sept. 16. (Paul Vernon / AP)
Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer makes a statement during a news conference in Columbus, Ohio, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018. Ohio State suspended Meyer for three games for mishandling domestic violence accusations, punishing one of the sport’s most prominent leaders for keeping an assistant on staff for several years after the coach’s wife accused him of abuse. Athletic director Gene Smith was suspended from Aug. 31 through Sept. 16. (Paul Vernon / AP)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Instead of lamenting the state of the Mariners this morning, we’re going in another direction: lamenting the hypocrisy of fans. It’s a well that may never run dry. Read on.

••••••••••

• There was one simple lesson driven home yesterday when Ohio State announced the three-game suspension of football coach Urban Meyer

No, it was not coaches need to be more aware of what their staff members are doing. Nor was it coaches need to act more decisively when confronted with evidence of wrongdoing. Those would have been good lessons to teach.

Nope, the lesson reiterated was this: Our coach does something awful, he deserves the benefit of the doubt. Their coach does something awful, fire his butt.

At least that’s how fans see it. 

The hypocrisy of most fanbases is appalling. It’s also nothing new.

It’s not a blind spot. It’s smoked glasses in a window-less room.

Many Ohio State fans – and they were all over social media yesterday – didn’t see why Meyer was on the hot seat in the first place. 

They may admit the coach knew one of his assistants was abusing his wife in 2015. There is so much evidence of it, it would be impossible to ignore. Meyer’s wife even admitted to the victim the assistant coach scared her. 

But there was no arrest, was there? The administration wasn’t getting involved, were they? So what should Meyer have done? He was too busy winning football games. It’s not his job to protect everyone in Columbus.

This isn’t meant as an indictment of Buckeye fans – exclusively. It’s meant to indict all of us.

C’mon, admit it. If your guy is winning consistently, it doesn’t matter much, does it, what he does. Heck, if he stands up in public and endorses a political candidate you abhor, you hold your nose and say it’s OK. After all, his personal views are just that, personal. Even if he did inject them into the news cycle.

Now, if your neighbor puts up a yard sign for the same politician, you may go on Nextdoor or Twitter and fire off a salvo or two, but he doesn’t win any games for old Alma Mater U, does he?

If our guy does it, we overlook it. There guy? Burn him in effigy. Or for real.

It’s fandom 101.

Wait, there’s a caveat. Our guy better be winning. If he’s not, then his foibles and mistakes are not so forgivable, are they?

Win a Super Bowl and all that positive energy is just the ticket. Lose a bunch of games and the energy is just a pathetic act by an old man trying to hang on.

We do the same with players. Help our team win, your protest is an admirable act. Be a step slow or jump offsides once too often and it’s OK to shuffle them off to Philadelphia or somewhere.

It’s understandable, if not defensible. Fans are fans because of a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the pack mentality rooting for someone brings. If we are a part of the collective, the rest of the collective is part of us. We band together to protect each other. 

We have each other’s backs. Including those whose backs are covered with lies and denial.

•••

WSU: There are many reasons to have a beat writer covering a college football program, but none more so than what’s illustrated today in Theo Lawson’s story on the defensive line. Theo not only explains what is happening with the group, he delves into the why. And then, by updating a previous piece, he moves the story forward. … Theo also has video of post-practice interviews with coach Mike Leach and assistant Dave Nichol. … Larry Weir spoke with Robert Gagliardi, who covers Wyoming for the Laramie Boomerang, for today’s Press Box pod. … How does the quarterback battle look to those outside the program? … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, it’s time to look at the Washington depth chart. … Coach Mario Cristobal says Oregon will be healthy for its opener. … This may be the only way Oregon State goes bowling this season. … One of California’s top linebackers had to give up the game. … Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre is too busy to worry about other things. … Utah has a weapon that no one else has. And a young long snapper. … Cameron Smith’s return has bolstered USC. … Arizona State is working on takeaways. … Kevin Sumlin has a message for Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate.

Gonzaga: Mark Few has been a successful college basketball coach for a long time. One thing that comes with that veteran status is the ability to help shape the game’s rules and guidelines. He did just that as a member of a coaches’ committee tasked with helping the NCAA refines its tournament selection process, the result of which was announced yesterday. Jim Meehan has more in this story

EWU: The Eagles’ secondary may have more depth this season than in year’s past, which is fine with captain Mitch Fetting. Ryan Collingwood has more in this story. … Around the Big Sky, Portland State’s defense has added speed. … Southern Utah wants to be more consistent. … Northern Colorado’s defensive backs know they will be tested. The same can be said at Idaho State. … Football is neuroscience for one Montana State player. … Montana is still trying to decide on a quarterback, with little to separate the two candidates.

Idaho: It looks as if the Vandals will start the season with two quarterbacks splitting the playing time. Peter Harriman explains why in this story.

Indians: It’s time to come home. Spokane lost 2-1 at Everett last night but return to Avista for eight of its final 11 games. … Elsewhere in the Northwest League, Hillsboro finished up a sweep of Eugene

Chiefs: Spokane is back on the ice, and elsewhere, preparing for the WHL season. Dan Thompson has a story on how the Chiefs tested their limits yesterday. … Elsewhere in the WHL, Portland has a veteran assistant behind the bench.

Mariners: It’s getting late quickly for the M’s, as their 10-7 loss to Houston – Marco Gonzales was knocked around again – drops them even further behind the Astros. … Robinson Cano started at third base. … Next year’s schedule is out and the M’s travel is pretty crazy at times. 

Seahawks: Will Germain Ifedi rise up and accept George Fant’s challenge at right tackle? The Hawks hope so. … Bobby Wagner wants to finish his career in Seattle but he has his eyes on K.J. Wright’s contract situation. … The Hawks seem a bit snakebit at running back.

•••        

• When it comes to giving the benefit of the doubt to one of my heroes, I’m as guilty as anyone. Have been since I was a little kid. But some things are harder to justify than others. Until later … 


Subscribe to The Spokesman-Review's sports newsletter

Get the day's top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.

There was a problem subscribing you to the newsletter. Double check your email and try again, or email webteam@spokesman.com

You have been successfully subscribed!