KLEE: At top of sports, winning is all that matters

By: Paul Klee
March 28, 2013

DENVER — Five minutes into Indiana-Syracuse on Thursday night, I flipped off the TV and walked the dog.

It takes something severe to ignore a Sweet 16 game.

It takes a celebration of Tom Crean, who makes me queasier than a 7-Eleven burrito.

Consider this story and let me know if Crean is a role model worth celebrating. Aaron Craft is the point guard at Ohio State. He carries the ball on a string and a 3.92 grade-point average. There’s not a college coach who wouldn't take him, or a father who wouldn’t let Craft date his daughter.

After a loss to Ohio State in March, Crean took the opportunity to trash-talk Craft — in the handshake line. 

This is the man Indiana celebrates as though he wears a red sweater?

The reason is simple: He coached the Hoosiers to the Sweet 16. He wins games.

This is simply the latest reminder of a forever truth: Sports doesn't care if an athlete or coach operates in the gray area between loose morals and downright shady.

Just win. Sports will forgive your other sins.

This topic came to mind after seeing an advertisement from a sports giant that also serves as a moral compass: Nike.

It was an advertisement featuring Tiger Woods. Upon returning to the No. 1 ranking, Woods appeared under the slogan, "Winning takes care of everything."

The truth hurts.

We are all witnesses to his blistering tee shots, but Woods has never hit a 2-iron more true than those words: Winning takes care of everything.

TV ratings skyrocket when Woods is a Sunday factor, plummet when he misses the cut.

The perception of the Miami Heat was altered dramatically during its 27-game win streak.

Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire in 1998 — versus now. Jim Calhoun winning three NCAA titles — versus now, with Connecticut on probation.

Love 'em while they're winning, loathe 'em when they fail.

Is it OK to believe winning should change our perception of sports figures?

No, but it is naïve to think it is any other way.

Two things make me anxious.

People who smile all the time.

Players or coaches who emphasize they "do things the right away.”

Both are probably hiding something.

Let's not hide behind one of the most egregious lies in sports: Anything other than winning matters.

Show me a booster who says they want a coach who makes more hospital visits and kisses more babies than he wins games. I'll show you a coach without a contract extension.

In shaping perception, winning is all that matters.

Makes you queasy, doesn’t it?

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