Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Separating debate from needless commentary

I can't remember a discussion that has sparked more controversy in the Nation's Capital basketball community than the one surrounding the OUA East Coach-of-the-Year selection. For the uninformed, the Coach-of-the-Year in the OUA East is selected after a vote of the 8 coaches in the division (coaches cannot vote for themselves). There are no detailed guidelines provided with respect to any criteria to use for making selections. This season, U of T's Mike Katz was named OUA East Coach-of-the-Year, sparking what has become an outcry from many who believe Carleton Head Coach Dave Smart should have been named to the honour.

The objective of this post is not to continue the discussion of who should have won the award; opinions have been widely expressed in several newspaper articles, internet discussion boards and other media and I provided two seperate posts on my opinion in this matter. Collectively, the OUA East coaches have determined their choice. What this post does intend to highlight are some disconcerting remarks with respect to Coach Katz and his university which in my opinion are immaterial to the discussion and frankly tarnish the positive points made for the case for Coach Smart as COY.

The first claim which originally appeared in an article by a junior writer at Carleton's campus newspaper that I mistakenly (without first reading) linked late last week, made factually-incorrect statements about Coach Katz (the link has since been removed and the editor of the Charlatan, who was away on vacation when the piece was published, has since delivered a very proper and classy apology to Katz - see Epilogue below). These claims had no connection to the COY debate.

Now yesterday, we come across an "article" which delivers another tirade authored by someone named Jack Aubry, who has a "column" as a "guest writer" in the Ottawa Citizen. Aubry presents an emotionally-charged plea that may or may not strengthen his case for Smart being COY. (Neate Sager has his thoughts on this piece Out of Left Field) Regardless of your take on how Aubry builds his argument on the COY issue, the "article" in my opinion degenerates into needless calling out of the University of Toronto, completely immaterial to the discussion. The specific quote:

In its wisdom, the OUA East is naming Mike Katz its coach of the year. A capable coach, for sure, but you have to wonder if the fact that he blows his whistle at the University of Toronto -- which thinks of itself as the centre of the universities -- is not lost on any roundball enthusiasts in the capital.

This is becoming silly... I wonder whether or not the author actually spoke to Coach Smart for this article because the only quote attributed to Smart that is used appears to be taken word-for-word from an article written by Wayne Kondro more than a one week ago when Wayne first broke the story about the OUA East awards and honours. I know that in speaking directly to Coach Smart, he does not endorse any of these statements demeaning Coach Katz or the University of Toronto.

Making a proper, mature case for Coach Smart winning Coach-of-the-Year is one thing but demeaning another individual and the institution he represents with wreckless comments and flippant opinions frankly lowers the entire discussion below where it should be.

Epilogue: Simon Martin, editor of the Carleton student newspaper, the Charlatan, was gracious enough to acknowledge his newspaper's improper representation of the facts (we will not repeat the accusations because they are immaterial to the discussion). Martin has written a formal apology to Coach Katz and the readers of CISHOOPS.CA and we appreciate his sensitivity in this matter:

There really is no excuse... I reviewed the article we wrote... there was no mention of such action... I feel terrible about this. I would like to think it would have been different if it was not my week off. But blame goes to our whole paper and I have to take responsibility because I work with the university sport community. I hate when my paper's credibility (especially sports credibility is damaged.) And I apologize for any harm to your website's credibility this has caused you... I have attached the Charlatan's apology to Mike Katz.


Anonymous said...

I happen to believe that Dave Smart should have received the COY for the OUA east.
Having said that, I am very disturbed about the amount of vitriol directed towards the other coaches in the conference, particularly towards Mike Katz, in published articles in the Charlatan and the Citizen. The Jack Aubrey article, in particular, is very disappointing.
It is one thing for a junior reporter on a student newspaper to overstep his/her bounds. That happens occasionally, and at least the Charlatan offered its apologies.
But the tirade by Mr. Aubrey simply is not excusable, as he is obviously far more mature than any student...or at least, one would hope he would be.
I must express disappointment with the Citizen editor(s) who decided to publish this article.
Even though this was an op-ed piece by a "guest" writer, it surely must be incumbent upon Mr. Aubrey to substantiate his opinion with facts.
Instead, he supports his diatribe with only conjecture and prejudice.
I can only hope the Citizen follows the Charlatan's example and offers Mr. Katz a sincere apology, both in print and by letter.
This article, IMO, dangerously borders on slander.

DIB said...

I don't know why these people in Ottawa are so unnecessarily reactionary to this COY announcement. An undefeated season is amazing but it must be placed in perspective ... it is not a stretch to imagine Carleton having gone undefeated this season. On the other hand, Toronto surpassed every expectation anybody had for them (including themselves!) by far. Phil Jackson has 9 NBA Championships and has only one COY to show for it. There is so much more that goes in to the voting and selection of COY than simple wins and losses that maybe the average fan doesn't appreciate or understand. The bottom line is when you are selected by your peers, it is immaterial what anyone - casual fans like Jack Aubry and Charlatan writers included - thinks, and while I would guess that Katz is at least a little irritated and dismayed by the negative reaction towards him in order to support Smart, I highly doubt he gives a you-know-what because of who voted him in. So just get off your high horse, Carleton-lovers, and give praise to your coach but also give recognition where it is due and don't demean and disparage to get your point across. IMO, it is classless and makes you look bad.

Ben said...

Apologizing takes balls. You got them Simon. I respect that. The Charlatan is a better newspaper for having someone with the courage to absorb blame.

Anonymous said...

I would like to point out to the blogger "dib" that not all Carleton supporters feel the way Jack Aubry does about Mike Katz.
As a Raven supporter, I want to express hearty congratulations to Mr. Katz for an award he well deserves and I hope he claims the CIS COY later this week.
I am a die-hard Carleton fan but I thought Aubry's article in the Citizen was nothing more than a poison pen letter and really had no place in that paper. Aubry made several not so subtle accusations about the coaches in the OUA east and basically dismissed Coach Katz's accomplishments out of hand.
His comment about about Katz winning because he is a Toronto based coach was so sophomoric it is beneath one's dignity to even respond to it.
In all of this debate over who deserves COY, it is interesting to note that Dave Smart himself does not appear to be all that concerned whether he was nominated or not.
He has more important things on his mind, obviously.
Perhaps those few people who are obsessed with this should find other things to occupy thir minds, too.