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When we were growing up and playing Little League sports, be it football, baseball, basketball, soccer or whatever else we played, we were taught that winning isn’t everything. But nowadays, when you look at sports beyond high school, winning seems to be all that matters.
Every year we see the same thing. A team goes into the season with high hopes, or at least better hopes than the year before, and totally blows it. Some teams inexplicably regress to what they once were after a season that seemed to turn the tides. Others just can’t seem to climb out of the hole. At the end of the season, and sometimes during the season, these coaches are fired.
Every move they made was questioned, not because they were the wrong moves necessarily, but because they didn’t produce a win. Money is what drives professional sports, and money comes from winning. Sure, Little League taught life lessons, built character, helped kids deal with disappointment and taught teamwork, but at the next level, the professional level, those things aren’t the focus.
We saw it on what is called Black Monday — the day after the end of the National Football League’s regular season. Five coaches were fired within a day of the final snap. One was fired a mere hour after the game. Two of these coaches led their teams to the playoffs last season. Another coach was fired during the season after his team lost 11 straight games.
This is nothing new, of course; it is an annual event. Winning is a necessity for any team to keep its revenues up. The job, then, is to find the guy who can get your players there. As soon as the firings happen, the hirings begin. Already two of the six coaching spots are filled, and they all will be filled within the next month.
This recently happened right here at Weber State University. Two years ago, WSU lost a phenomenal coach in Ron McBride. The man who was hired to replace him left town, so Jody Sears, then the defensive coordinator, was promoted to head coach.
There were large setbacks in Sears’ first season. The team won just two games, which didn’t happen under McBride. But Sears was signed to a contract extension. In the deal, WSU had the option to let Sears go if he didn’t win four games during the 2013 season or six games in the 2014 season.
The Wildcats opened the season with a thrilling 50-40 win over Stephen F. Austin State University. The Wildcats struggled with injuries the whole season and went on to lose 10 straight games before winning the last game of the season. WSU exercised the option to fire Sears for not reaching the four-win mark.
Just two weeks later, the university hired a new coach, Jay Hill, to take over the reigns as coach at WSU. Among his other qualities, Hill was brought in because of his strong ties to recruiting in the state of Utah. Hill has the task of taking over a team that hasn’t won a Big Sky Championship in over five years.
Time will tell what the future holds. As a student at WSU, I hope Hill is the answer, because I would love to see the purple and white achieve greatness once again. Winning brings the students and the fans to the games, and it helps build the fanbase. It makes everything right with the universe. Here’s hoping the year 2014 is kinder to all of our sports teams.