SIDELINE SLANTS

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JOE KLEINSASSER
Let’s see if I’ve got this straight. Texas Tech basketball coach Bob Knight gets into a heated argument with the school’s chancellor David Smith while shopping in a grocery store? What are the odds that both men would go shopping at the same Lubbock grocery store at the same time?

The grocery store brouhaha caused me to think, and that’s always dangerous. My premise is that shopping reveals character. Knight’s recent behavior is Exhibit A in defense of my premise. His behavior in the cabbage patch is strikingly similar to his demeanor on the basketball court.

For better or worse, right or wrong, most coaches have a reputation.

It’s no secret that Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder has a reputation for paying attention to detail and for not sharing much information, former KU basketball coach Roy Williams has a soft spot in his heart for home, TV basketball analyst Dick Vitale tends to get excited during games and TV football commentator Dan Marino had second thoughts about taking a front office job for the Miami Dolphins.

What if hidden cameras were used in grocery stores to catch some high-profile coaches and sports personalities shopping? We’d probably see behavior that is consistent with their professional lives. It might play out something like this.

The camera zooms in on Bob Knight as he checks out the tomatoes. At first all is quiet, but suddenly his face turns ripe-tomato red and the veins in his neck bulge. Alas. He has spotted a rotten tomato and he’s not one bit happy about it. Knight picks it up and hurls it across the store.

He picks up another and another and another and hurls them as well. A store employee rushes over to see what’s wrong, and Knight angrily says, “Look at these tomatoes. They’re disgraceful.”

The employee replies, “But sir, it’s winter. This isn’t prime tomato growing season, and that’s the best we could get.”

Knight angrily retorts, “If that’s the best you can do, don’t get them. I won’t tolerate mediocre tomatoes. Now, get out of my way. You’re wasting my time.” He pushes the employee aside and resumes shopping.

Meanwhile, in another store, our camera spots Bill Snyder meticulously restacking soup cans on a shelf because they weren’t stacked perfectly the first time. A shopper approaches Snyder and asks, “Aren’t those bananas in your cart a little too ripe?”

Snyder promptly throws his coat over the cart. He says, “It’s none of your business. It’s an internal matter. It’s not necessary for me to reveal the condition of my bananas.”

And wouldn’t you know it, our hidden camera has also caught Roy Williams shopping for onions. The camera zooms in to show Williams has tears in his eyes.

A shopper says to Williams, “I know how you feel. Those onions affect me the same way.”

Williams replies, “Oh, it’s not what you think. Every time I see onions I think about my mom’s homemade onion soup. Nothing compares to her onion soup, and there’s no place like home.”

Is it just a coincidence that Williams left Kansas for North Carolina? I think not!

Don’t look now, but there’s Dick Vitale shopping for apples, oranges, bananas and grapes. He’s not talking to anyone in particular, but he’s definitely talking.

With great enthusiasm he says, “Hey, baby. Look at this fruit. Bring it on. It looks great. It tastes great. This fruit is ready for prime time. It’s awesome, baby. This is as good as broadcasting Duke and North Carolina games.”

In our last stop, our hidden camera spots former Miami Dolphins quarterback and current TV analyst Dan Marino taking a box of Cheerios from the shelf.

But wait. A minute later he goes back and exchanges the Cheerios for Frosted Flakes.

And moments later, our camera catches him returning the Frosted Flakes for a box of Cheerios.

Given his shopping behavior, it comes as no surprise that he accepts and a short time later turns down a front office job with the Dolphins.

The moral of the story is that sports-and shopping-reveal character.

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