Coaches Gone Wild?
I watched in awe after witnessing the Head Softball Coach at the University of Florida, Tim Walton, push Auburn shortstop, Haley Fagan, in a post game hand shake line. (Click here to watch the video) My first reaction was disbelief that something like this could happen in a long time Division I national powerhouse program. My second thought was surely the NCAA or University of Florida would step in and issue some sort of consequence, but that didn’t happen. What did transpire was Coach Walton issuing an apology that the incident occurred, however, that was the end of it. It was clear, Haley Fagan pulled her hand down as she didn’t want to high five Coach Walton for reasons that go back many years from what i understand, but does that give a grown man an excuse to push a player? It does not. While writing this, i initially inserted ‘push a woman’ in the previous sentence, but it is more than that, the leader of a Division I, II, III, NAIA, High School, Little League, shouldn’t push a player, regardless of the situation. It is their responsibility to have a cool head and not succumb to antics displayed in the hand shake line.
Coaching in the SEC, especially at Florida, means you are under a microscope and in the spotlight constantly, that’s part of the gig. Being accustomed to media exposure makes me wonder if Coach Walton felt his actions were acceptable, knowing what he did would be on video and replayed for the masses repeatedly. Coach Walton’s contract is in the upper tier of softball coaches throughout the country, earning approximately $400,000/year. With great compensation comes great responsibility. Not pushing college athletes and being the bigger person is near the top of the list, especially when a student athlete feels the need to deny a high five. So what if she pulled her hand down, she’s a kid playing a game. I can only imagine what Haley’s dad felt when he saw this clip. I’m certain various emotions including anger, disgust and disdain were prevalent.
Have we crossed into actions like this being acceptable? I’m hopeful not, however, this isn’t the first case of a coach feeling as if they are untouchable and bigger than the game, just the most recent.