The latter part of March of this year likely won’t be edited into any future Nick Saban television retrospectives, what with three of his Alabama football players arrested on charges that ranged from pot possession to drunk driving to domestic violence. Two of those players were subsequently dismissed; the lone non-dismissed one was Geno Smith.
Smith’s latest off-field misstep was the one pertaining to inebriated driving, his second such arrest in less than two years. Sunday, the Alabama head coach used that defensive back’s situation to highlight something that’s actually a “thing,” but something most don’t want to address: entitlement. And a generation or two of kids/young adults who, from my own experience, feel the world, and everyone in it, owes them something simply because they have the ability to stand upright, breathe and exist.
“They all think they have this illusion of choice,” Saban said. “Like I can do whatever I want to do. And you kind of have a younger generation now that doesn’t always get told no, they don’t always get told this is exactly how you need to do it. So they have this illusion that they have all these choices.”
“But the fact of the matter is, if you want to be good, you really don’t have a lot of choices,” Saban said. “Because it takes what it takes. You have to do what you have to do to be successful. So you have to make choices and decisions to have the discipline and focus to the process of what you need to do to accomplish your goals.
“And all these guys that think they have a lot of choices are really sadly mistaken. And I think, as we all have done with our own children, they learn these lessons of life as they get older, and sometimes the best way to learn is from the mistakes that you make, even though we all hate to see them have to make them. And we don’t really condone them when they do.”
I have two children who have successfully trudged their way past their teenage years; two current teenagers, one of whom seemingly tests me on a daily basis; and one future one who sings like an angel, plays shortstop like a female Omar Vizquel and worries me more than the other four combined. I currently coach kids in pre-teen sports for good measure, which means I deal with their parents as well. I’ve seen first-hand the entitlement of which Saban intimates, and I applaud him for speaking out and addressing something that is currently an 800-pound spoiled brat squatting in the middle of way too many living rooms all across this country.
His message, though, gets muddled when he keeps a player twice convicted of driving drunk on his squad. And, in the process, perpetuates the “I can do whatever I want to do” attitude that he both laments and chastises.