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Friday, November 21, 2014

Writer Crosses the Line in Questioning Ty Lawson’s Toughness

One maxim I pretty much adhere to is that I don’t criticize collegiate athletes for on-field related performance. I have no problem criticizing their coaches considering they get paid big bucks to win, but as far as we know (I know, I know) college athletes don’t get paid real money. At the very least, they’re just amateurs and often times merely teenagers, and that’s why I don’t feel it’s fair to pick on them unless they’re doing stupid things like breaking the law. Clearly Mike Gundy felt the same way because it prompted him to go all Mike Gundy at a press conference. I’m guessing Roy Williams wouldn’t be too far off from such a performance if he read Jeff Goodman’s latest column at FOX Sports (and if he isn’t, he should be). Goodman generally has a good nose for breaking news, but he crossed the line by calling out North Carolina point guard Ty Lawson who has a toe injury:

The drama surrounding Ty Lawson is getting old. You really think Tyler Hansbrough would be sitting out an NCAA tournament game with a sprained big toe? Not a chance. But North Carolina’s speedy point guard isn’t Hansbrough. He’s an enigma and a major point of frustration for the entire Tar Heels team — even though you’ll never hear Tar Heels coach Roy Williams or any of Lawson’s teammates admit it.

I hate questioning a player’s threshold for pain, but remember, this is the same guy who sat out three weeks and six games last season with an ankle injury which teammates privately questioned whether he was milking.

Reading the entire column gives me the sense that Goodman has money on Carolina to win it all or something and he’s panicking because Lawson’s not ready to play. Honestly, why else would he take it upon himself to rip Lawson in his national column the week of March Madness? The best he could do in his prime time and moment to shine was tear apart at 21-year-old kid like that? Even if other players on the team privately told Goodman those things it’s not up to him to write a story like that. It’s up to the players on the team to challenge Lawson to man up. It’s not like we’re talking Tracy McGrady who has a max contract from the Rockets and can’t stay healthy — we’re talking about a young point guard for North Carolina whose game is speed based and to whom a nagging foot injury would be debilitating. Maybe he’s doing what more athletes should be doing — letting more capable guys step in while you’re less than 100%. And I think Goodman needs to lay off of questioning the toughness of 21-year-old college kids in the future. So many other things about which he could have written on the eve of his sport’s Super Bowl.


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