Why do we watch football? Is it for the violence, cheerleaders, thousands of raucous fans? Or maybe a combination of all three of these things? And when does football being football push us past our comfort zones? These are all relevant questions after last week’s incident in which Washington’s Head Coach Jimmy Lake struck a player on the sideline. The fallout proved immediate, with Lake swiftly receiving a one-game suspension. But before we jump down his throat, we need to consider whether his actions are abuse or just a regular incident in football culture.
The first thing to consider regarding this occurrence is the context of the situation.
Before the Oregon-Washington matchup, he made some questionable comments about UO. When asked whether the Ducks are the Huskies’ biggest recruiting rival, he stated, “Our battles are really – the schools that we go against are way more… have academic prowess.”
Whether this comment was intentional or not is irrelevant. A coach at a high-level program like UW should have higher emotional intelligence and an understanding of the power of his words.
He’s not some burner account on Twitter.
The second thing to consider is the downfall of the Huskies football program.
It was just four years ago that Washington was finishing up their third consecutive ten-win season. They also got invited to three-straight New Year’s Six bowl games from 2016-18.
Hopping ahead, they currently stand at 4-5 and realistically have a chance at missing post-season play this year. The Dawgs haven’t missed a bowl game in over a decade. Well, unless you count the 2020 Covid-season in which they finished 3-1.
However, more egregious is their product on the field this year. They’ve already lost to Montana, Oregon State, and nearly Arizona.
Whatever’s going on in Seattle probably started before the season kicked off and likely won’t be rectified in the upcoming weeks. Maybe we all should have paid closer attention when five receivers transferred out of the program during the off-season.
It seems like they were on to something.
And the guac was in the tac last Saturday.
Regarding striking a player, this statement may be overblown in an everyday society where his actions are inappropriate. In football culture, were his actions wrong? Now that’s up for debate.
But before we tear him apart, what makes his actions different from Michigan State’s Head Basketball Coach Tom Izzo?
During a First Four matchup in the 2021 NCAA Tournament, Izzo grabbed one of his players by the elbow and swiftly turned him around. The grab was strong enough to immediately turn around a Division I athlete, which speaks to the force involved. He also tugged his jersey, ran after him, and screamed in his face.
This is not an isolated incident.
However, many of his former players took to Twitter to defend their coach.
Ex-Spartan Draymond Green posted, “Typical Michigan State exchange.”
Delvon Roe, who played for Michigan State from 2008-2011, wrote, “Haters, gone say that ain’t a good look wit Izz and Gabe Brown. Ima tell you, that’s winning basketball!!”
So does that mean if Michigan State was a losing program, Izzo’s actions are suddenly inappropriate?
This is a fine ethical line and a line that Lake appears to be on the wrong side of.
To defend his actions doesn’t feel appropriate, but maybe we all should all consider what we’re furious about.