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Lying doesn't even 'Nick' image of officeholders

January 09, 2007|by TIM ROWLAND

Commentary

Those of you interested in sports have doubtless been following the story of former Miami Dolphins coach and new Alabama Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban.

For those of you not interested in sports, I have some exciting news about cosmetics.

Saban was gutted and filleted last week for leaving Miami for Alabama, after he repeatedly said he would not. He compiled a lengthy paper trail of public denials, but this one from two weeks ago will serve as a good example:

"I am not going to be the Alabama coach," said the new Alabama coach. And all the while he was brow-beating sports reporters who had the audacity to ask about his coaching intentions, making them sound like roaches for questioning his honesty and integrity.

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So when he went back on his word, he understandably got pounced. Here are some of the words for him as scripted by the Miami Herald's excellent columnist Dan Le Batard. I am providing the public service of alphabetizing them in case anyone wants to go back for quick reference.

Amateur. Arrogant. Counterfeit. Failure. Fraud. Gasbag. Greasy. Greedy. Hypocrite. Liar. Loser. Quitter. Slimy. Traitor. Unctuous. Weasel.

And those were the positive comments. You don't even want to know what former Miami legend Don Shula had to say about the whole situation. He was always so stoic on the sidelines, but where Nick Saban is concerned, Shula turns into a Tasmanian devil on meth. In the sports world, the Saban story has ignited a pyre of indignation that can only be measured in megatons.

So my question is this: Why do we, in America, hold sports figures to a higher standard than we hold politicians?

If Nick Saban were a U.S. senator who categorically denied that he was going to run for president and then turned around and ran for president, no one would pay it a second thought.

Take the case of our own Rep. Roscoe Bartlett. He said he believed in term limits and would only serve one term, a couple at the most. That was going on two decades ago. And no one cares.

Bill Clinton took heat for the "did not have sex with that woman" unpleasantness. But if you held a national election right this second, there is no doubt he would absolutely whip any candidate on the American political stage today.

I'm getting to the cosmetics part, I swear.

Kudus to all elected officeholders. You have set the bar so low that the public clearly expects more out of some headphoned sidelines monkey than it does of you. That couldn't have been easy. Nice work.

And this is sports we're comparing you to. Sports. In the grand scheme of things, is there anything less important on Earth, unless it's how upset some chick got for receiving a low score on "American Idol?"

Lying is part of sports' culture. How many times have you heard a coach say something stupid like, "Temple probably has the best defense we've faced this year" or "Kyle Boller is our quarterback of the future."

Prior to the NFL draft, front offices are famous for lying to reporters about who they intend to take with their top pick in order to throw off other teams. Football teams use trick plays to disguise their true intentions. Baseball clubs will say they have no interest in a free agent to try to drive down the player's salary.

Even the eminently noble Joe Gibbs is famous for saying the week before the game that his entire starting lineup will likely be on injured reserve and he will probably have to start one of the Washington Redskins cheerleaders at quarterback.

In sports, deception is part of the game. A football coach lies? They lie all the time. They're trained to do it.

Yet we still expect more out of them than we do of the people who are supposed to be running the country. No wonder we can pack a stadium but can't roust voter turnout above 50 percent.

And in all honesty ladies, I really did have something on the agenda concerning cosmetics, but it seems I have shot my allotment of space. My apologies. Just call me Nick.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or via e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com. You can listen to his podcast, The Rowland Rant, on www.antpod.com.

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