A few days ago, Gbruin started a lengthy discussion about whether Bruins Nation is a community worth fighting for. The response has been overwhelmingly affirmative and affirming. It was not all sweetness and light, however, nor should it have been. Lots of people seemed to treat this as the "Airing of Grievances" part of the annual Festivus celebration.
There have been several debates in that thread (and others) about whether "overwhelming negativity turns recruits off" and about negativity in general. I disputed the opinions of JT63, who I believe thought that recruits might be turned off, citing the absence of any evidence from any recruit who said he chose not to come to UCLA because of something that was said on this or any blog. I was feeling pretty smug about how smart I was until the story broke about Jean Delance, who decommitted from the University of Oklahoma because of the racist chant by an OU fraternity. Then I got into a lengthy dialogue with curryinaninstant and bruinbaskets about negativity in general.
I don't think that there has ever been anything on the BN that could be equated to the events at Norman. That said, I can understand how someone might argue that repeated references to "Doughnut Dan" is just as reprehensible to some people as the chanting at OU, although maybe not of the same degree. That's the point I want to get to here - the extent of and content of the criticism of various people and institutions. When does it become too much? Or can it never be too much? I nominate JT63, curryinaninstant and bruinbaskets to serve as prominent speakers on this, because I know they have opinions and can articulate them well (and with civility).
Let's start with Director Guerrero. (As an aside, my background is such that I always used an honorific when referring to someone, and it was quite a sea change for me to stop doing that when I started posting here. At least for the balance of this post, I'll go back to the way I did things before.) Director Guerrero is objectively the worst Athletic Director we have had at least since World War II in terms of the performance of our two revenue sports. I did a piece during the Neuheisel era which I think demonstrated that. (Despite my new exalted status, my researching skills are no better than they were before, and it will take me a long time to find it. If I can find it.) There are numerous other posts which demonstrate his poor performance on any number of criteria, not the least of which is the foolish contract he gave to the guy currently in charge of our basketball team. Similarly, there are any number of instances in which he has shown what appears to me to be absolute disdain for the interests of the students.
Should we stop criticizing Director Guerrero? I say no. When I was in MBA school, I had a professor who defined "power" as the ability to convince someone to do something that he or she did not want to do. I want Director Guerrero replaced as the Athletic Director, but I have absolutely no power to force him to leave his post. That power exists elsewhere, so we must achieve power over the person who can fire Director Guerrero, namely, Chancellor Block. I think we must put relentless pressure on Chancellor Block or Lt. Governor Newsom or someone else with power, in order to make Director Guerrero a memory only. The key word in this strategy, in my opinion, is "relentless," because politicians have a tendency to just smile and walk away from criticism unless it turns out that they can't walk away from it. It seems to me that we would make it in Chancellor Block's interest to fire Director Guerrero, by constantly and relentlessly making Director Guerrero's ineptitude a headline event [key word coming], because it puts Chancellor Block in the position of having to justify Director Guerrero's continued employment, a task which is objectively impossible. Would a recruit think that this sort of constant criticism of the athletic director is too much, and he would go elsewhere? A couple of days ago, I would have said no. Now, after the Oklahoma business, I'm not as absolutely certain (although again, anecdotally, I have never heard of a kid going to a particular school because of what was said about an Athletic Director.)
The next subject is Bryce Alford. I didn't want him on the UCLA team last year or this year. To my uneducated eye, he didn't look like he belonged at all last year. There were games this year, and one road trip in particular, in which he looked hopelessly outclassed. Then there was the just$c* game, in which he was 5 for 6 from three point range. I don't know basketball the way IEAngel knows football, but to me, it appears that Mr. Alford has improved tremendously, and is qualified to be on the team.
Should we stop criticizing Bryce Alford? I say no, provided that the criticism is fair and related to the way he plays. He certainly can't be faulted because of who his father is, and no one here would find fault in his desire to attend UCLA. How much criticism of his play is too much? I don't know.
So that's the question. When does warranted criticism and fair comment cross the line and stop being fair? My dad used to say "Fairness is whether it's my ox in your cornfield or your ox in my cornfield." No one has a corner on the definition of fairness (certainly no one on the BN Masthead). Similarly, no one is or should be immune to criticism, but where should we draw the line? I don't know. It's now time for JT63, curryinaninstant and bruinbaskets to start stirring the pot.