They are only words, and then some
by Martin Henderson
There’s a right way and wrong way to do almost everything. There is also a high road, and a low road.
That was evident at the CIF State Basketball Championships presented by Farmers in Bakersfield, when circumstances certainly could have turned ugly with an improper word or poorly chosen phrase.
There were a few winning responses over the weekend, some that didn’t pan out so well.
This isn’t a primer for those who want to look good, just a reminder: The view is much better from the high road.
Perhaps no one was more gracious than Richard Wiard, who was coaching Bishop Amat in a state title game for the fifth time. However, this wasn’t like the others. Stockton St. Mary’s, trying to make a statement and claim a mythical national title over Mater Dei, scored an 89-41 girls’ basketball victory over Bishop Amat. The game was never close, and St. Mary’s – which had lost to Mater Dei earlier in the season – broke a 21-year record for margin of victory despite a running clock in the fourth quarter.
Wiard then gave a clinic in dealing with the media.
When asked about the one-sidedness, Wiard took ownership of the situation from the other side: “If it was me,” he said, supposing for a minute that the roles had been reversed, “I wouldn’t have been pressing with my starters in the fourth quarter.”
And just like that, he allowed others to draw their own conclusions. He had not insulted anyone, had not fanned any flames to start a brush fire, had not called out the opposing coach to create animosity in future meetings. It was fair and it made his point, satisfying himself as well as the media that had asked the question.
“You don’t want to say anything that can be misconstrued – ever,” Wiard said the other day, far removed from the emotion of the moment and expressing just as he did after the game that the onus was on his team to put up a better fight. “You don’t want someone to take it the wrong way. My parents taught me, ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say. . .’ There’s a reason that’s a good old saying,
“You’re going to be frustrated and angry on occasion at players, at officials, at coaches, whoever, and you especially don’t want to say anything to put in print.”
Words on the printed page – and in cyberspace, too – don’t die.
Which makes Wiard’s comments even more valuable to coaches, players, even parents and fans: Don’t say anything you don’t want to see in print or anything that can be misconstrued – ever.