Volume 95, Issue 95

Thursday, March 4, 2002
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Breaking the code

Editorial Cartoon

Editorial Board 2001-2002

Breaking the code

Did Larry Haylor cross the line or did Philippe Beaudry break 'the code?' It is a polarizing debate and one that goes far beyond the football field.

Beaudry, a third-year offensive lineman for the Western Mustangs football team, has complained to the equity services department about head coach Larry Haylor, who Beaudry says verbally abused him in a loud argument in the varsity weight room.

Beaudry is not alone in his suggestion that Haylor is sometimes overly tough on his players, but, as his record shows, Haylor has had a statistically successful coaching career.

His long and celebrated career at Western spans almost two decades and, under his leadership, the team has won 146 games, lost 30 and tied four. It is an undeniably impressive record, but composing a great stat sheet is only part of a coach's job.

As a coach, one should also act as both an educator and a motivator. A coach should be persistent and tough, but their criticisms should always be as constructive as possible. Though the situation and language may change, the relationship is similar to that between a teacher and student.

It is a relationship that needs to be respected.

A coach should be well-rounded – while coaching is almost always their primary responsibility, they should also display an element of concern for their players that goes beyond performance on the field. A good coach leads a team to victory, but a great coach inspires them along the way.

Although the context of the complaint is important, it seems that perhaps a line has been crossed, especially if the complainant – an experienced starter who plays a valuable role on the team – is standing up, knowing he may never wear a Western jersey again.

While the sports world may have an unwritten code of ethics, there is no place for this type of conduct at the university level. Perhaps people in the CFL should take it, but not university students who are at Western to study, first and foremost.

Further, at some point, we must stop accepting the "yeah, but it's sports" justification every time an athlete or coach crosses a line and behaves in a way that goes against accepted forms of behaviour.

Still, it seems this current complaint may perhaps uncover a deeper issue at hand – an old-school coaching style pitted against society's ever-changing sensitivities.

Take Bobby Knight, for example. As the former head coach of the University of Indiana Hoosiers basketball team, Knight's ferocious temper gave him quite the reputation. Though he played a valuable role in leading the team to a number of NCAA championships, Knight's coaching abilities – or lack thereof – have since become an example of how not to coach a team.

Regardless of the outcome, the recent complaint against Larry Haylor has generated a considerable amount of attention, which suggests that some sort of action needs to be taken.

Perhaps more people need to break 'the code.'

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Copyright The Gazette 2002