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  Vitale Home     College Basketball     ESPN.com  

Second-guessing makes tough job tougher

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

Oct. 18, 2004
When I watch sporting events on TV today, like the Major League Baseball playoffs, I'm amazed at how much the coaches and managers are second-guessed!

Managers Phil Garner and Terry Francona have been target practice at times during this postseason. The bottom line is you can't win today with all of the scrutiny that goes on. Years ago, as a coach, we did not have the same level of questioning decisions. It wasn't as publicized as it is today. But today every pitch, every move is analyzed, and it's incredible. I don't think the game of baseball is that complex, yet on every pitch, the commentators remark on everything!

In the media and in talk radio, it's easier to rip people when you know you won't have to face them the next day.
I learned a great lesson years ago when I was coaching. Hall of Fame writer Joe Falls, a terrific scribe, would rip and bury coaches, criticizing their strategy. I remember one time, while I was coaching the Pistons, he took me to task, saying my enthusiasm belonged in college and not in the pros.

The next day, he appeared in the locker room and gave me the opportunity to respond to his column. He believed in letting someone he ripped respond to his thoughts.

These days, in the media and in talk radio, it's easier to rip people when you know you won't have to face them the next day. I know when I question coaching strategy as an analyst, I feel it's only fair for that coach to have the opportunity to respond to the comments I made.

I learned that from Falls.

Today, some players and coaches cannot handle the criticism. Some players simply say they won't talk to the media. Guess what, it's the media that helps you reach your fans and develop that relationship.

As a professional athlete in this day and age, with television, radio, the Internet, etc., you are better off dealing with the media than combating it. If it's done in the proper way, an announcer has a job to do in giving his opinions on the game and the strategy.

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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