Why is shoving a player such a big deal?

Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

Cal head coach Mike Montgomery was seen on national television shoving his star player and will likely face some kind of suspension from the school. Why is this such a big deal?

Every season, there's always one coach that gets a little too heated during a game and, when he doesn't like the way his players are performing or their attitude during a game, gets a little physical with one of his players. And occasionally, this moment gets captured on national TV for everyone to see.

Such is the case with Cal head coach Mike Montgomery, who was seen during Sunday's Cal-USC game shoving star player Allen Crabbe. Montgomery said it was to motivate Crabbe and it worked - Cal was down 12 at the time and Allen had only scored 9 points. He ended the night with 23 and the Bears won. But the big story, instead of how an NCAA bubble team kept their hopes for a tournament bid alive, was this shove, which really looks harmless the more I watch it.

Cal AD Sandy Barbour called the incident "unacceptable" and "clearly out of character for Mike Montgomery", though the head coach did say he would do it again. After the game, Crabbe understood why Montgomery did it.

"Just spur of the moment," Crabbe said. "It was a emotional game at the time. He was trying to motivate me. Everything's fine. It's under the bridge. He's my coach."

My question is why is this a big deal? Why does the nation go up in arms the second a coach lays a finger on a player physically? Frankly, if Jamie Dixon or Paul Chryst or any of Pitt's coaches did this, I'd applaud them. They clearly have a reason to do so and if the player suddenly plays better afterwords, all the better. Can you imagine if something like this happened in Pittsburgh, a city that prides itself on physical play? I doubt people here would so much as bat an eyelash.

Let's replace Montgomery with any player on Cal's roster. If a player was seen doing this, people would ignore it. They would probably look at it as one player trying to motivate another. Why should that player get off with nothing while Montgomery has to endure public scrutiny?

Bob Knight allegedly choked someone in 1997 and was still allowed to be a head coach. He would have only been suspended 3 games had he not gotten himself fired at Indiana. But this harmless shove is inciting a media frenzy? Look, there's trying to get a player going and then there's being too physical. This is clearly an example of the former. Let's look at it this way. The player didn't get hurt and the team won. If Crabbe injured something, then feel free to get up in arms, America. But if not, then relax and move on.

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