Friday, February 25, 2011

When is an apology not enough?

I have done some dumb things in my life, most of which have been alcohol induced.  I have had to apologize immediately following my idiocy or at some point the following day.  For the most part an apology would suffice and life would go on, but there were times when some people would not accept or want to hear an apology, even for the smallest of infractions. 

On January 25th the Holy Family University basketball team was going through their morning practice.  Their then head coach, John O'Connor, made the decision that his team was not showing enough effort and competitiveness during a rebounding drill.  He stopped the drill stormed over to his players and grabbed the ball from sophomore player Matt Kravchuk.  This action knocked Kravchuk to the ground and injured him.  Kravchuk suffered a scratch to the lip and forhead and a bloody nose.  O'Connor then hit Kravchuk with his foot trying to get him to stand up.  Kravchuk then talked to an assistant coach as the rebounding drill continued, O'Conner cursed at him and then tossed him out of the practice. 

Coaching is a tough profession.  Good coaches not only mold players, but they have a major impact on men and women as they grow into adulthood.   Sports teaches us discipline and the value of hard work.  Sports also allows us to bask in the glory of a win and learn how to accept defeat.  Coaches have the difficult job of trying to figure out ways to motivate their players and try to get the most out of their teams.  If players are not working as hard as the coach believes they should be he needs a spark to wake them up.  He needs to create an environment where players are challenged to go beyond what they thought they could achieve.  In some way teaching them to do the same in their personal lives.  Sometimes this situation can go to far.  We have seen coaches choke players and throw chairs, but I do not think that this situation lies among those actions of other coaches. 

John O'Conner has coached for 18 years at the division I level.  He was hired by Holy Family and was in his first year as a head coach there.  After the morning incident he felt bad and apologized to Kravchuk and to the rest of the team that evening.  As with anyone of us, after a heated argument or stressful situation when things and mostly ourselves calm down, cooler heads prevail.  Right then and there the story should have ended.  According to O'Conner he did not mean to injure his player and it could have happened to any one of the other players, it did not seem personal. 

Kravchuk wanted more, he wanted the university to take action.  What action he has not stated, maybe a more public apology or maybe a suspension, we do not know.  The university did not do enough for Kravchuk to be satisfied so he went to the police and filed a criminal complaint against O'Conner.  After that a 30 second time frame of two lives spiraled out of control.  O'Conner was suspended, and has now resigned even though the police have said they will not pursue or press any charges against him.  O'Conner met with the rest of the team on Thursday night and informed them of his decision.  Kravchuk and O'Conner, along with their attorneys were on Good Morning America Thursday morning.  O'Conner again apologized for his actions to Kravchuk who again proceed not to accept.

In the end a coach has removed himself from his current job and I am sure that Kravchuk has alienated himself from his teammates.  In my eyes the apology on the night of the 25th should have been enough and this should have become a  non-issue.  Coming from a friend that allegedly almost attacked another friend over a poker game some years ago and had to apologize for his actions, a genuine apology is all anyone should require.

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