A headline story which may or may not have merit hit the wire - and has created shock waves throughout the nation. Possibly unnecessary shock waves, especially considering all that’s going wrong in this country at this time, a time we need to lighten up on some things and pull together on some others. Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell was caught speaking to a colleague around an open microphone. Shame on him, not realizing that you should know 1) that you never, as a public figure, say anything when a live mike is anywhere near you - whether to a friend in a private conversation or not and 2) that any journalist worth his or her salt (or is it venom) is going to try to scoop his or her competitors by uncovering something juicy on national TV or get that career-defining A-1 story in a newspaper(s) with a circulation of millions. CNN’s Campbell Brown absolutely roasted Rendell, prefacing her remarks by saying how much of a fan of his she was, that she liked him for his candor (her show is called “No Bias, No Bull“), and how he’d been a frequent guest on her show. Lucky for him she was such a good friend.
What he was overheard saying about President-elect Barack Obama’s selection for Director of Homeland Security, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, Brown admitted may have been difficult for listeners to hear (even though they ran a caption of his remarks as he said them), so she repeated the conversation, enunciating each word very precisely. “Janet’s perfect for that job. Because for that job, you have to have no life. Janet has no family. Perfect. She can devote, literally, 19-20 hours a day to it.” Brown’s response: “Wow!”
Brown ended her monologue by saying, “Governor Rendell, I don’t mean to rake you over the coals” (if she didn’t mean to, she failed miserably because more than anything else, it certainly could have been considered coal-raking in the first degree). “I know what you wanted to say” (and although I could have dwelled that side of the story, I felt the road to better ratings was to take it in the direction I did), “but your comments do perpetuate stereotypes that put us in boxes.”
As was her exclamation after hearing his conversation, mine to her comments is also: “Wow!” As I was listening to her mini-rant, I was waiting for her to throw in the “what are you implying, that she’s a lesbian?” While she never said it, I do think she was implying it and I’d have more respect for her if she’d actually addressed the subject.
When I heard what he said, I immediately thought of my former 30-year career as a college basketball assistant coach. Guys in our business used to say the best assistants were the single guys because head coaches didn’t feel bad about asking them to perform things that needed to be done at all times of the night, on weekends or holidays because they had no family. When a coach in our profession was referred to as a guy with no life, it was a sincere compliment, i.e. all they did was work, perfect for the job. And no one ever accused them of being gay. They were admired, mainly because there weren’t that many of them and when one surfaced, his name was on every head coach’s short list.
I know because I worked with a couple of them and, at the beginning of my career, I was known as one. Then, I got married and started a family. Not for a minute did I think, “Wait, do I really want to limit my job possibilities?” When all is said and done, the life decisions you make ought to be made for the right reasons. Yet, when trying to decide on hiring an assistant, the single coach, with no ties or family (all else being equal) is usually more desirable. On the flip side, I know of coaches who got married because they thought that having a wife was a show of stability and that would be looked on favorably by directors of athletics and presidents of universities when applying for head coaching positions. In the end, the great majority of these visionaries ended up with neither a wife nor a head coaching job.
Now, do I think I got shut out of some opportunities as an assistant? Possibly, but I didn’t get married until I was nearly 39, so my age may have had something to do with that too. And having a wife didn’t help me in my dream to become a head coach, either. But I’d much rather have a dream family (wife and two sons) than a dream job - even if it was accompanied by all the success that might go with it. Don’t get me wrong - it would have been sweet to have both - and there are those who do. In the final analysis, however, when going after a job - be it a head coach or assistant - or any other type of employment, it’s production that counts (having the right people know you is a real close second).
I’m waaaay off on a tangent now but, getting back to Campbell Brown and Ed Rendell -with all that’s going on in the United States - and the rest of the crazy world - maybe we ought to heed Edgar Watson Howe’s insight:
“Instead of loving your enemy, treat your friend a little better.”�