Monday, December 04, 2006

The Best of America's Youth

We stayed, yet again, on this most recent visit to Phoenix at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in the North Central part of town. It's a decent location and with a break on the rates, economical as well.

The most prominent guests for the weekend were the fine young men of the Lackawanna College football team. Turns out Lackawanna was in town to take on Glendale Community College in the Valley of the Sun Bowl on Saturday the 2nd. We didn't realize it at 12:30 in the morning when we checked in, that we were sharing a 3rd floor hallway with more than a few of these fine young men.

Turns out that Lackawanna's Head Coach Mark Duda has a roundabout tie to the Valley through a connection with the Cardinals organization: It will be a homecoming of sorts for Lackawanna College head coach Duda as he played defensive tackle for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1983 to 1988. A torn knee ended Duda's career and opportunity to continue his career with the Arizona Cardinals.

He also, as best we can tell, isn't interested in or lacks the ability to control his team. Over the course of the weekend we were advised that the team curfew was 11:30 PM, something that was observed only the night before the game, won by the visitors 17-16.

We arrived back to the hotel around 10:30 Saturday night and needn't have been told to understand that Lackawanna had won that afternoon. Their behavior over the course of the next five hours was testament to their joy and accomplishment.

Over the course of those five hours--and this is just in our hall, on our floor--we were treated to a rash of slamming doors, loud screams, hoots & hollers and at least one streaker. Each of the 4 times we asked for them to quiet down we were ignored. The two times we screamed at them to shut up and go to bed, we were told to calm down and go back to our room, that all was OK. Or better yet, the fine student-athlete we were speaking with didn't know who was making all the noise. Meanwhile, the hotel fared no better.

On the 3rd call to the front desk they agreed to send hotel security up to the floor to check out the situation, after which the noise died down for about 10 to 15 minutes and then resumed at it's former decibel levels. This happened againd after an additional two phone calls requesting the hotel to do something about the situation.

Now, back to Coach Duda. At one point--I think it was after I suggested to the front desk agent that the inmates were running the asylum and that perhaps he ought to involve team officials--we were advised that none of the coaching staff including the HC were on-site. That at 2 AM! The following morning we were advised that indeed some of the staff were in the building, something I would tend to believe after speaking with someone associated with the team who'd made several attempts to quell the noise on our floor.

Regardless though whether Duda was in the building or not, the evening's results speak for themselves. No one in authority stepped in and the at least a dozen members of the team itself spent half the night engaged in conduct unbecoming and ignoring the hotel's authority and that of it's own staff. It was a disgrace and all of it lays at the feet of the HC.

Had it been me and the roles reversed, guests would have complained the following morning not about the boorish behavior of my players but rather about me; about the loud screams and banging on walls to make the point that my guys need to shut up, get behind closed doors and settle down. Instead, we were left with one last image sure to epitomize the whole affair: One of the Falcons racing down the hall, screaming at the top of his lungs, wearing not even his jock-strap sometime after two-o'clock in the morning.

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