It’s easy to blindside someone and lay them out; it’s a lot harder to stand up in a locker room of 52 teammates and say it’s wrong to try and intentionally hurt an opponent.
Okay, I guess I was . . . too subtle in the piece I wrote yesterday about Mike Rice. I just assumed that most people would start from the same baseline, namely that Rice’s behavior toward his players was completely unacceptable. A baseline, by the way, that Rice himself has subsequently acknowledged.
But I was wrong. Some people didn’t feel that way. And I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Sean Hannity was among them.
As reported in the Atlantic, Hannity, in a segment on his show, said the following,
He’s trying to bring the best out of them, put discipline in that team, raise their game, force them to focus, push them [to] become champions and that takes intensity.
I shouldn’t be surprised by this. Sean Hannity has always espoused a faux machismo. His books sport titles like “Let Freedom Ring” and “Deliver Us From Evil.”
But patriotic bromides are easy. They are the literary equivalent (and I use the term literary equivalent loosely) of the athlete who pounds his chest after a hard foul or an illegal hit. As I’ve discussed before on The Good Men Project, physical courage is much easier than moral courage. It’s easy to blindside someone and lay them out; it’s a lot harder to stand up in a locker room of 52 teammates and say it’s wrong to try and intentionally hurt an opponent.
Real toughness, true toughness, is the ability to focus on one’s goal despite any and all distractions, including opponents looking to give you cheap shots. Committing a hard foul doesn’t make you tough. Getting up off the floor after a hard foul, walking to the line and calmly sinking both free throws makes you tough. ESPN commentator Jay Bilas expounded on this very point in a brilliant essay some years ago.
Sean Hannity is a moral coward. He’s the equivalent of the cheap shot artist. He thinks that puffing his chest on national television and talking about how he was able to take his father’s beatings with a belt and still turn out okay makes him tough. It doesn’t; it makes him deluded.
A coach who cannot discipline his own emotions cannot hope to discipline his team. The Good Men Project was created precisely for the purpose of generating a conversation about what it means to be a good man. Well, I’m going to offer part of my definition of a good man. A good man is never full of false bravado. A good man never uses violence in any form to get other people to do what he wants them to do. A good man leads by example.
To do the opposite, to lead by fear, is to be a coward. To defend that behavior is to be less than a coward. That is precisely what Sean Hannity is. Less than a coward.
Photo: AP/John Amis