Coaches Interfering With Games = Bad Idea


In the world of sports, there are generally two roles: the role of the player and the role of the coach. The two are intertwined, but at the same time, they are mutually exclusive in that they cannot both be involved in the action at once. However, from time to time, the two roles do converge during the game, almost always resulting in a negative outcome. In just the past week, there have been two separate incidents of coaches taking it upon themselves to impact the game. On Wednesday, Jason Kidd, head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, intentionally spilled his drink on the court, delaying the game. On Thursday, Mike Tomlin, head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, seemed to intentionally interfere with a kick return. Though neither incident had an effect on the final result of their respective games, the fact remains that both coaches interfered in ways they shouldn’t have.

Coming into the 2013-2014 NBA season, the Brooklyn Nets were touted as a serious contender in the Eastern Conference after adding Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry to their already stacked roster. The team also introduced a new head coach, Jason Kidd, one of the best strategists that the NBA has ever seen. Unfortunately, the season has not gone as smoothly as people predicted, and the Nets are at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. That said, Kidd’s act of what appeared to be intentionally spilling his drink on the court, causing a delay in order to clean the floor, could be seen as an act of desperation.. The day after the incident, Kidd was fined $50,000 by the NBA for his actions, and justifiably so. As the coach, he was wrong to interfere in the game and, Kidd apologized for his actions, saying that he “probably shouldn’t have” spilled his drink. The one saving grace in this situation is that Kidd did not actually jeopardize any of the players – but Mike Tomlin’s act of putting his foot onto the field could have been catastrophic, if Jacoby Jones had not sidestepped it

On Thursday, Mike Tomlin’s Pittsburgh Steelers faced the Baltimore Ravens in the latest chapter of one of the NFL’s greatest rivalries. Tensions always run high during these games and sometimes things get a bit out of hand, but Tomlin may have taken it a little too far. During the third quarter, the Ravens’ Jacoby Jones returned a kickoff, successfully evading the Steelers’ defenders and racing up the sideline on his way towards the end zone. However, Tomlin was inexplicably standing on the sideline with his back towards the action, causing Jones to sidestep out of the way and get tackled by one of the Pittsburgh defenders. A player could have been severely injured by a coach’s actions. Those actions have no place in the game.

Sadly, this is not the first time the NFL has seen a coach directly interfere as the game was being played. In 2010, Sal Alosi, then a member of the New York Jets’ coaching staff, intentionally stuck out his knee obstructing the path of Miami Dolphins defender Nolan Carroll, causing Carroll to run into Alosi and fall down. Alosi was fined $25,000 by the New York Jets and suspended indefinitely. He resigned from the team about a month and a half later. Thus, Alosi’s act sets an interesting precedent for Tomlin’s on Thursday. Tomlin hasn’t been fined as of yet, but his actions are being investigated by the NFL to determine whether or not it was intentional.

Reflecting on what has happened in both cases, the question arises: why would either coach have committed these acts, knowing the likely consequences? Both instances are displays of a lack of ingenuity and coaching skill, instead demonstrating childish obstructions in the vain hope of solving the problem – which did not happen in either circumstance. Both Kidd and Tomlin deserve their fines,. I can only hope that their punishments will remind them not to overstep the boundaries of their job. Players belong in the game and coaches belong on the sideline

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