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This Viral Louisville Coach Rant Has Good Bits, But Bad Bits Too

Is the world really all about winners versus losers? Are we not better than that?

05/12/2016 3:49 PM AEDT | Updated 05/12/2016 7:12 PM AEDT
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Walz is known for his fiery temperament. This is him a couple of years ago.

Seems like the half the world is in love with Coach Jeff Walz, who heads up the women's basketball program at the University of Louisville, after a rant in which Walz had a big swipe at the slack attitude of millenials, modern parenting and pretty much the entire state of society.

After his team lost a tight game at home to Maryland recently, Walz gave your standard post-match press conference. It hummed along in your regular, disappointed coach kinda way for the first few minutes. And then the fun started.

Questioning the effort of some of his team, Walz took aim at the every-child-wins-a-prize attitude which is prevalent these days in junior sport.

"Right now the generation of kids that are coming through, everybody gets a damn trophy, mmkay?"

(Note: yes, he actually said "mmkay", not "OK", just like Mr Mackey in South Park.)

"You finish last, you come home with a trophy. You kidding me? I mean, what's that teaching kids? It's OK to lose. And unfortunately, it's our society. It's what we're building for."

But he wasn't done there. Walz soon segued to the wider world away from sport.

"And it's not just in basketball, it's in life. You know, everybody thinks they should get a job. Everybody thinks they should get a good job. No, that's not the way it works. But unfortunately that's what we are preparing for. Because you finish fifth, you walk home with this nice trophy, parents are all excited."

"No. I mean, not to be too blunt, but you're a loser. Like, we're losers. We got beat. You lost. There is no trophy for us. But unfortunately the way these kids are brought up today, there is a trophy. Because nobody wants anybody to have hard feelings. Nobody wants to get their feelings hurt."

And of course, social media absolutely loved the rant. This reaction was one of thousands in a similar praiseworthy vein.

It was hard to disagree with much of the above. This particular writer penned a blog a year ago celebrating the achievement of a son who'd earned a trophy for excellence at school, as opposed to all the ones he's collected for his not-very-good football team.

The largely unprovoked monologue has been widely reported everywhere from sports sites to the Washington Post. And we'll say it again, most of the above makes good common sense. It's a refreshing antidote for those who would wrap young people in too much cotton wool. Yes, it's a competitive world out there. Yes, we should prepare people for that.

But if you listen to the full 11 minute press conference, there were a few moments that made you go, hmmmm.

Walz's thoughts on losing went like this:

"I hate to lose. If you don't hate to lose more than you like to win, you got problems."

And this:

"But boy I hate losing, absolutely hate it. And if you don't hate it, then that's a problem. If our kids aren't sick tomorrow, and if it's not in the pit of their stomachs on Sunday going 'I've had enough', then we do have serious problems.

And like this, with regard to how things used to be after a loss back in the day:

"You went home. You went home a loser and you worked on it if you wanted to be good."

Coach made a good point about going home and working harder after a loss. But he also, and not for the first time, used the word "loser" as a perjorative term.

"Loser" is a pretty loaded word. We live in an increasingly polarised, black-and-white world where people like Walz (and Charlie Sheen, and Donald Trump) often remind us you're either a winner or a loser. That's it. No middle ground.

Not everybody can "win" all the time. Slapping labels like "loser" on people is no more helpful -- and arguably more damaging -- than giving out trophies for mediocrity.

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