Wind: 1.01 m/h
It’s not unusual for me to get up some mornings, look at social media, and immediately get aggravated. Happens more days than it doesn’t, to be honest.
But today’s perusing of topics on Twitter this morning really annoys me. There are some who have taken a harmless analogy by Virginia Tech Coach Mike Young and tried to turn it into something entirely different.
The New York Post, for example, has a headline saying “Mike Young Takes Random Shot At Jehovah’s Witnesses.” TMZ had a headline that said Young “Trashes Jehovah’s Witnesses.” I’ve seen a poster using the “NotMyCoach” hashtag because of this, and I’ve seen comments like “disgusting” replying to this.
So now that you’ve seen what I think is a huge overreaction, let’s look at what Young said. He had been asked about playing Ohio State, assuming the Hokies beat Florida in the first round. Reacting the way any coach would, Young strongly stated they weren’t going to overlook anybody and were only focused on the next team on the schedule.
"We're not playing the Jehovah Witnesses all-star team; We’re playing the Florida Gators" Young said. “We’re playing the Gators, man, we’re playing the Gators. I do know who our next opponent would be if we were lucky enough to win, but there’s not a chance in hell you starting thinking about anything, nothing…I will not give one clip about anything but Coach White’s Gator team, and that’s the same for my team.
“This is it. This is one game and if you play poorly or get outplayed, I’m going to be walking down the hall after talking to you guys via Zoom and there’s going to be an NCAA Representative telling me, ‘your plane leaves in 45 minutes. Good luck to you. Go get your stuff packed and get out of here’.”
To me, Young is saying Florida is not an all-star church league team. He could have said Southern Baptist All-Star team, the All-Presbyterian all-star team or any other phrase to denote a recreational team versus a major college team. There was indeed no malice, and when he was told the phrase might have offended someone – although I can’t imagine how – he immediately apologized.
“Earlier today on the NCAA Tournament conference call, I attempted to show my respect for our upcoming opponent, the University of Florida,” Young said. “Regrettably, I didn’t articulate that sentiment in an appropriate manner,” Young stated. “I apologize for my insensitive remark and am sincerely sorry for anyone I may have offended.”
I’m not sure how this is a “random shot” at Jehovah’s Witnesses. He referred to a church basketball league. Didn’t say they played bad basketball. Didn’t say anything bad about the group at all other than using it as an analogy for a recreational league. And in fairness to the New York Post, they wrote a relatively balanced story that you can read here. Seemed more like the headline writer was looking for clicks.
TMZ, on the other hand, was, well, being TMZ. They printed the quote and immediately said “what a stupid thing to day, right?” and then explains this by saying “Young's insinuating that a team full of Jehovah's Witnesses would be trash compared to the Florida Gators.”
That’s quite a stretch to interpret Young’s comment as saying all athletes of this particular faith can’t play basketball. You can read their story here.
I realize that the argument I’m laying out violates all rules of social media, which say you attack and demean whoever said something you disagree with and not present facts. Facts get in the way and they really prevent a person from feeling good about themselves for pounding out a “sick burn” on their keyboard.
But this is what I’m choosing to do. If you look at Young’s body of work for a long time, you see a very good coach, and an even better man. To think he’s secretly harboring a prejudice or bias for the denomination of a religion, and after all this time is just now revealing it in a press conference in Indianapolis is, well, kind of silly.
But you decide. Above are all the details.
I’m standing with Mike Young. I don't see what he did wrong.
I agree 100% with your "stance," Dave. Many folks seem to look for any quote or innocent action to turn into something it isn't. It could have been the sky blue pink Jewish All-Stars, the Knights of Columbus Cleveland Cavorters, the Methodist After School B Team, etc., etc. The point, as you've stated, is that coach Young was illustrating by comparison that Florida is no church league team to be taken lightly. Period. Stop. Nothing more. No harm, no foul.
A friend of mine since high school somewhere along his life path became a Jehovah's Witness. I thought about messaging him on Facebook to see if he had anything to say about Coach Young's comment but didn't. Luckily someone else mentioned it to him.
I logged on Facebook and saw a comment that started out, "I'm appalled by the VT coach's comment". I thought oh no, here we go. But it continued, "all these years I've attended the JW church and I had no idea we had a basketball team, much less an all star team smh".
But I'm sure somebody somewhere made a big deal about it.