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Change Is Always Coming

No one likes change. Old people, and people in power are usually harangued for this specifically, but the truth is that no one likes things to be different than how they want them to be. One of my kids hates it when we change their room or the markers or update something. I suspect some of it has to do with her simply having no say in it, but it is not just that 1.

Take some comfort that someone will always be complaining that things were changing from how they used to like them and someone will be praising how things are changing only to bemoan it later when no one cares and changes it again.

I remember TV commercials on like, MTV 2 suddenly targeting me, making jokes I thought were funny and for things I liked. Then it stopped. I was not the target demographic of that channel anymore.

I understand how coaches like Wisconsin’s Greg Gard are bewildered at the new normal in — not just college basketball but in –life where people would record a conversation. I understand the frustration he and the AD Barry Alvarez had at the seemingly disloyal and underhanded tactics but they also fail to understand that today’s players have a better understanding of power dynamics than ever before and are speeding up the tell-all to be real time.

Do I like it? It does not matter. That is how it works. People can record audio in video in historically good quality on handheld devices (and smaller) now. Everyone must act accordingly.

It reminds me of corporations pushing back against remote work simply because it means the worst of them cannot continue doing the least amount of work and treating employees like crap. The worst college coaches enjoy having power over players and showing them every day that they can be awful simply because they can. They yell and justify it retroactively by saying they are just showing tough love and what not.

A thing I like about Seth Littrell is that he does not yell on the sideline at his players or coaches. It shows a good understanding and basic amount of respect. I do not like that Nick Saban does yell and berate and disrespect his staff and players but he is so successful and comes from a time when that was acceptable that we kind of just brush it off.

Saban is successful because he is good at teaching the game, and holds his players and staff to high standards. That he communicates the importance of those standards disrespectfully is just an inefficiency. Furthermore, there is a difference between passionate communication and disrespect.

Yelling and saying “this is not good enough!” and saying “You piece of [expletive]” are very different things. 3

If there is a truism about life — not just human life but earthly life of all species — is that circumstances bring the necessity of change and those beings willing and able to adapt have the best chance to succeed. 4

Anyway I was thinking about all this while reading about Luka Dončić and the Mavericks. 5 The best coaches (and players) can adapt their game or style to whatever is in front of them. Tim Cato wrote in the Athletic about Rick Carlisle being very adaptable throughout his career. He was a defense-first guy in Detroit and Indiana, and became a spread-and-shred coach of a super effective offense. He trusted new information, and changed his coaching style.

There is a limit for even the most adaptable of people and sometimes the adaptation is to leave. Carlisle saw that he was not going to have enough rope and so he decided to move on. Luka Dončić did not love Carlisle and the Mavs organization having to choose between the two is only ever going to go one way.

That dynamic had not existed in college sports. Coaches had the disproportionate power. In a disagreement between a star player and the head coach, the organization (school) was going to stick with the guy that was going to be around longer. Twenty years ago, without social media and the internet that dynamic was even more pronounced as information flowed slowly, was filtered and hidden and if a program or coach had a bad reputation, it did not come out to the greater public and was much easier to dismiss.

I think having strong opinions but being willing to change them when new information is presented is the best hedge against getting steamrolled. Staying away from abusing what power you or an organization has is the other. There is always someone more talented or differently talented and they will force the change you are not expecting or ready for.

  1. I have tried to have my kid be a part of the process of choosing the things that would change and it does not materially change the reaction

  2. old!

  3. I do not like pointing out the obvious but one is communicating a fact and the other is just calling someone a name. What can I do with the information that you think I am a f*&^ing piece of *&t? Not much.

  4. Adaptability is very Lindy.

  5. I am not a Mavericks fan. I am from San Antonio so I am a Spurs fan. If you are interested in some intermittent writing about said fandom (and some of this topic) you can subscribe at the substack

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