Colorado State’s hiring of disgraced men’s basketball coach Larry Eustachy as their next head coach embodies everything that is good in the world of sports.
Eustachy was fired from Iowa State in 2003 for appearing in photographs alongside college females with beer in-hand at a party in Columbia, Mo. He received a second chance however when he was hired as head coach in 2004 by Southern Mississippi and hasn’t looked back.
There have been thousands of coaches and athletes throughout the years who have received second chances, sometimes more than that, and have earned the adoration of fans and the respect of their peers. And, for as many success stories as there are, just as many sports figures, if not more, have failed to capitalize on that golden second chance.
Either way, it’s the opportunity given which makes sports so wonderful.
Michael Vick served 19 months in jail for dogfighting and was publicly ridiculed. Upon his return to society, the convicted felon worked his way back into the NFL and is now the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles.
It’s tough to get any job as a convicted felon, especially one that pays millions. Thank you sports.
Ray Lewis is a future Hall of Fame linebacker whose leadership and intensity has captivated a generation of young kids wanting to be just like him. He also is a man who pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in 2000 as a result of a plea bargain stemming from his arrest on suspicion of double murder. The Baltimore Ravens gave him a second chance, while he was paying his debt to society by being on probation for a year, and were handsomely rewarded.
Too bad all businesses can’t operate like this.
There are always going to be risks involved when doing businesses with people who have a checkered past, but the same goes for people with a clean past.
Nike found that out the hard way when their clean-cut, well-spoken representative Tiger Woods had a Thanksgiving night that was “one for the ages,” as Jim Nantz said upon Tiger’s remarkable Masers win in 1997. Woods’ 2009 Thanksgiving car wreck led to revelations that he cheated on his wife — a lot.
The Texas Rangers have stuck by two of their guys through tough times and have made consecutive World Series appearances because of it.
Manager Ron Washington tested positive for cocaine in 2009 and subsequently admitted his problem, accepted help, and stayed with the team. Outfielder Josh Hamilton has had drug and alcohol issues for years, but the Rangers have been trying to help him through it. The league itself banned Hamilton for three years but gave him a second chance and let him back in.
Jason Giambi was involved in steroids while playing Major League Baseball and eventually admitted it. After accepting punishment and coming clean, he has become a fan-favorite on the Rockies, and was respected enough by his peers, and coaches, to manage an intra-squad game during spring training against fellow veteran Todd Helton (Giambi’s team won 6-0).
People have made the argument that this idea of a revolving door, which allows sports figures to line their pockets with money, needs to be stopped. Why does Vick get to make millions of dollars when I would be instantly fired from my job after spending 19 months in jail? That is the wrong way to look at it.
Would I be able to find a job after I served time? That is the question that should be asked.
I applaud CSU, while they are in the midst of a football scandal which most likely will force several athletes to start looking for their own second chance, on the hiring of Eustachy. He admitted his mistake, has paid the price and has fought back to get to where he is today.
Not many industries can claim that they affect millions of lives just by giving people a second chance at working in a career they love. And yet, for that simple reason, sports are as magical and compelling now as they have ever been.