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Bill Kennedy: Fear has a role with arrogance

Bill Kennedy
Bill Kennedy

In a scene in the film "Bull Durham," the wise and grizzled veteran Crash Davis imparts a pearl of wisdom to young phenom Nuke LaLoosh, "You have to play the game with fear and arrogance." I think that that thought would apply to any endeavor, especially those with a high public profile.

It seems to me that more than a few people in the news lately have the arrogance down pat, but have forgotten the fear part of the equation.

One example of this lately is the furor over the comments by new Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen, who stated in an interview in Time magazine that he admired Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. To utter those words in an area with a large population of Cuban exiles, including many who were once held in Castro's prisons for their views on his government, shows that Guillen is full of arrogance but also quite ignorant of the subject on which he spoke, and he didn't have the fear of being misunderstood or alienating the segment of the population that he and the team are trying to reach.

Although he has made multiple attempts to apologize and to restate what he really meant to say, the Cuban-American population in the Miami area still calls for his resignation or firing over those insensitive remarks even as the team has suspended him for five games.

Politicians are also not immune from the arrogance without fear syndrome. For example, our state legislature couldn't get its act together enough to pass a reasonable budget for the next fiscal year and fell back on a so-called "doomsday budget" that calls for massive cuts in agencies and programs, including education.

Because the legislature couldn't or wouldn't do what it was elected to do and pass a sensible and reasonable budget within the economic constraints of the times, it took the fallback position, and because it is required by law to pass a balanced budget by the end of the legislative session, agreed to the budget bill that makes drastic cuts and employs more tax and fee increases.

The legislators forgot the fear factor because they don't fear the possibility of losing their jobs because of this inability to work together.

Even our local commissioners are not immune from this arrogance while forgetting the fear. Witness the infamous global warming presentation fiasco and the behind closed doors hiring of a political crony of one of the commissioners to a high paying job. These, and other examples, show that they act with the arrogance of believing that they know better than we do and without the fear that we will hold them accountable for their actions.

Another item in the news lately that falls into this topic is the recent firing of the head football coach at the University of Arkansas, Bobby Petrino. To summarize, the 50-year-old who is married with four children was involved in a motorcycle accident last week and, instead of telling the truth about the facts of the accident, he lied to the police and then to his employers at the university.

On investigation it came out that he was not alone on his motorcycle at the time of the accident. He had as a passenger a young woman, half his age, whom he had hired just days before to a position in his department's staff and to whom he had given $20,000 in university funds and with whom he had "an improper relationship."

Now to be sure, football coaches need a large portion of arrogance in order to be successful but Petrino forgot about the fear, the fear of having his job in jeopardy because of things outside of the coaching realm. He, like all coaches, had the fear of losing his job if the team didn't win or if he didn't follow the rules of the NCAA, but he didn't fear the consequences of his actions away from the field.

All of us need to have a measure of arrogance, some may call it confidence, that we are good at what we do, but we all also need to remember the fear of failure to others as well as to ourselves that keeps us on the path to our success.

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