No Angels in the Outfield … Or Anywhere Else

Athletes are not angels. They are not all good Samaritans, they don’t all give back to their communities, and they don’t all attend church on Sundays.
One thing that most athletes do is curse. Curse and curse and curse. All you have to do is watch one game, mostly any sport, and you will hear or even see curse words coming out of coaches’ and players’ mouths.
So why, then, do television networks feel it is necessary to put microphones on players and coaches during contests? At the Super Bowl, ABC put mics on Tampa Bay safety John Lynch and Oakland wideout Jerry Rice. They did this so fans at home could hear sounds from the game. Then when a player curses, people get upset. Hey – news flash: athletes get upset and excited during competition, and it’s not uncommon for them to drop a few F-Bombs here and there, or everywhere.
Last summer I was watching a baseball game on Fox Family Channel. It was their “watch-a-game-with-a-kid” day and they put microphones in the dugouts of each team. The problem with this was the mics were always on, and therefore most anything said loudly enough in the dugout was heard on the TV set, because no one could edit the tape.
Late in the game a hard-hit line drive went into the Oakland A’s dugout. Luckily the ball didn’t hit anyone directly, but it did manage to spill a cup of orange-colored sports drink onto the white pants of pitcher Barry Zito (who wasn’t pitching that day). Zito jumped from his bench seat and yelled, “Oh sh*t! That f*cking sh*t got all over me!”
After that, thousands of letters from angry parents flooded the Oakland A’s mailroom, saying that Zito was totally out of line and classless. The real classless people were the idiots who put the microphones in the dugout.
I have heard Coach K from Duke get pissed off and curse out an official, and the things Jon Gruden says during games aren’t PG-13 either. I don’t think there is a problem with cursing during games, or even practices for that matter. The only time professional or elite college athletes are not scrutinized for everything they say is on the field. If the media and national spotlight raid this tiny bit of privacy, where are players going to get it? Nowhere.
And one more thing that irritates me – during the Super Bowl it annoyed me further – is talking to players/coaches just before the start of the game or at halftime.
On Sunday, Lynn Swann asked John Lynch (30 seconds prior to kickoff!) how it felt to be in the game, and what they planned to do to stop the Oakland offense. At that time it is ridiculous to talk to a player or coach – they have their game faces on, and should be left alone. And when Maryland is beating Duke 49-39 at halftime in Durham, don’t be surprised to hear Coach K give short, pissed off answers to the poor slug that gets to ask him what his team needs to adjust at halftime.
So there you have it. Leave the athletes and coaches alone during the game. You have plenty of time to needle them afterwards in the press conference.
And if you are upset that Anaheim Angels first baseman said “that’s what I’m f*cking talkin’ about” after his team clinched the American League title, I have a few words for you: get the f*ck out of the clubhouse!