I have approached an interesting time in my life. Things have changed in my professional life significantly, and to say the least, I am always neck deep in work and constantly busy. One of my escapes over the past few years is following the NHL, and specifically, my hometown team, the St. Louis Blues.
Talk over the past few weeks, fans and journalists have been discussing the impending dismissal of St. Louis Blues head coach, Mike Yeo, and playing with the idea of rehiring ex-St. Louis Blues Coach Joe Quenneville. Well, earlier tonight, the first half of that equation came to fruition when the St. Louis Blues announced the firing of coach Mike Yeo. For now, Craig Berube will step in to fill the coaching role.
Reactions on Twitter vary from celebratory to shock. Which brings up my point of writing this blog. Sports are the only time that it seems appropriate to celebrate someone losing their job. It happens all of the time. When someone affiliated with a sports team is perceived to be failing and is dismissed from their role with the team, it seems to be socially appropriate to celebrate. Is it though?
I admit, when “my” team has all of the tools to be the best team in the league, and they ranked at the bottom of the league, my initial thoughts are that of a fan, and I think that something has to change. But, it’s odd to me that we can outwardly be thankful that someone has lost their job in the sports world.
Is this OK? Well, my initial thought is that coaches are in a place of privilege, and when they get fired, it is likely that they will not be put in major financial jeopardy. Typically, coaches of professional sports teams are extremely well paid, and will likely find another job as a coach or at a filling another role with another professional sports organization… and, in theory the team improves by making way for the new. It’s also extremely common and publicly reported in the media when someone is fired, so we have a right to a public opinion without backlash, right? But we also don’t typically celebrate when a coworker or family member gets fired from a job. For the average person, getting fired can be devastating. And regardless,
There’s not really a right or wrong take on it. And, I’ll be the first to admit, I am ready to see the team to move in a new direction.
However, I found this article written a few years ago by Johnette Howard of ESPN where coaches and other sports professionals discussed their feelings about being fired. Tom Penn, ex-VP for the Portland Trail Blazers, says in the article, “…I had this horrible realization that I had to drive home and tell my wife that I got fired, and that was the hardest thing -- that hit me like a thunderbolt. For her, she's just going through a normal Tuesday when I walk in the door and she asks me what's wrong and I tell her… It's a lonely and really uncomfortable spot to be in because what happens is your entire network of what was your [work] family gets ripped right from under you and you can't go back. It's the people you're in the trenches with day in and day out -- friends, colleagues and their wives. And it all goes away immediately."
I think the ESPN article certainly provides some insight into the stress and pressure of having a job, where, in reality, you will most likely be fired, and the stress that goes along with knowing you will be fired, and the abrupt lifestyle changes that come when you are fired.
However, it’s a different story when we are fired from our typical, hourly or salaried 9-5 job. Often times, people are left with little or no security, are put in financially complicated situations, and might have long lasting effects on their personal or professional lives. A side note to this is that there are a ton of articles online that state that getting fired was “the best thing that ever happened to me.” In my opinion, that’s a load of garbage. And the reality of the situation is that getting fired sucks.
To circle back around to the initial question: should we celebrate the firing of a professional sports coach? After thinking about it for a bit, I can’t really come up with a definitive answer for myself. I think that, probably, it isn’t a celebration of someone losing their job, but more of a celebration of the opportunity for the team as a whole to improve.
I’d be interested to hear other people’s opinions on this. Please feel free to comment below!
Thanks for reading.