Thursday, July 2, 2015

Coach Jim Harbaugh: Polarizing Yet Energizing

I have written about him before and I probably will again. When you are as polarizing yet energizing as Coach Jim Harbaugh, it's hard not to. When he left the position as the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers to return to his alma mater, the University of Michigan, my first thought was "I was upset the Irish dropped Michigan from its schedule...until now." Harbaugh wins. He does things his way. He always has and it's safe to say he always will. 
Harbaugh, an intense guy. Understatement of the year.
Yesterday's sporting news only pointed to this fact. SportsCenter featured Coach Harbaugh throwing out the first pitch at the Detroit Tigers game on Tuesday, June 30. The casual fan will see Harbaugh sporting his infamous khaki pants, a Mark Fidrych jersey and a Tigers ball cap with a maize "D," alluding to UM. They will also notice his focus, good form and a palpable desire to throw the high heat. Evidently, the high strike he threw was clocked at 55 mph. I'm sure he was miffed.

What they might not see is that Harbaugh wore his own cleats. He brought his glove (which is something he uses. According to SI, he has previously told reports that he has caught 20 foul balls at baseball games). He warmed up by throwing at least 25 pitches in the bull pen.

Harbaugh has one speed. It's how he's made. At its best, I find his uber competitive spirit entertaining. It fascinates me how a driven and focused personality like his plays out. In coaching its channeled toward an objective. In a radio interview, it doesn't always translate. 

Neither Carl Lewis nor Nelly threw remotely close to this....
Later that day, Harbaugh again made news for what is considered "the most awkward interview" that ESPN Radio's Colin Cowherd has ever had. As captured in the Washington Post, Harbaugh showed an unenthusiam unknown to mankind. 
CC: When are you at your least intense, because you are a pretty intense guy.
JH: Well good morning, Colin, how are you? Good to hear your voice!
CC: I’m great Coach, how are you! … Is there ever a moment in the day when you’re like: ‘I’m cupcake, I’m soft. … When’s the part of the day when you’re a pushover?”  
JH: [laughs] I don’t know, I don’t know. Uhh, guess I don’t know. Maybe I guess ask Sara, my wife. I don’t know.
I don't need to defend Jim Harbaugh and he doesn't need me to, but I listen to "The Herd" as much as I am able to stand. And that's not much. His tone is often flip and I don't believe he offers all that much that is unique to the sports talk radio dialogue (if you want to call it that). Furthermore, I have found Cowherd repeatedly dismissive of women's sports. His recall is strong but not exceptional and I'm not remotely convinced that he loves the coaches he mentioned (in that same interview) in the way he claims.

For those who don't know Coach Harbaugh, this interview is tough to listen to. For those of us who heard his weekly report on the San Francisco sports radio station, KNBR, his tone, commentary, inflection and responses are nothing new. He is who he is. 

And, as I said before, when I hear Psalm 139: 13-16, I think of the uniqueness of all people. We are each fearfully and wonderfully made. 
You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother's womb.I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works!My very self you know. My bones are not hidden from you.When I was being made in secret, fashioned in the depths of the earth.Your eyes saw me unformed; in your book all are written down;my days were shaped, before one came to be. 
He's polarizing and energizing. The way God made him (as written about before. Read here)

Photo Credits
First Pitch

Nice Kick

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