I’ve been watching a spate of recent championship games – the NBA finals, the NHL finals, the World Cup soccer finals – and I have been more interested in seeing the faces of the coaches of the participating teams. They must be the most keyed•up, unhappiest people in the stadium, perhaps on earth, at that particular moment; and to cap it all, they are on syndicated TV, their sourpusses exposed to the world.
They pace, they straighten their ties (the ones who wear them), they mutter uncontrollably, occasionally they yell, they recall their players and give them a dressing down during a time out, they shout at referees and linesmen, they shout at their players, but nobody listens to them. And occasionally, when their team scores, they are seen embracing their assistant coaches and dancing a staggering war dance to let out steam. Do they get secretly drunk after a game?
Often when the championships are over, they are left hunting for a new job. The last win was only the last win. They are not paid for the last win, but for the possibility of future wins. And, God forbid, if their team has suffered a string of losses, there is probably no job awaiting them.
I know why I have such empathy for the coaches. They remind me of writers.