Local sports lacking leadership

By David Mullen

What has happened to the leadership in this area? I am not talking about politics. I am talking about sports. It has become so much of the same old thing that fans are getting restless at the best or giving up at the worst.

The Dallas Stars give local sports fans the only reason for optimism today. Jim Montgomery has been hired to bring a new look to a talented, but underachieving hockey team. When Ken Hitchcock coached the Stars for a second time last season, it was hoped that he would bring the old swagger and success back.

But in mid-February, when it looked like the experiment was working and the Stars were well positioned for a playoff run, the team garnered just 16 points in their remaining 21 games and missed the playoffs. Hitchcock “retired” after one year.    

At the press conference announcing Montgomery as the new Stars head coach, general manager Jim Nill said, “We analyzed every team and we said ‘where are they at with their coaching’? That was the great part about the process is that we said ‘let’s open our minds up a little bit.’ We knew there were going to be some great veteran coaches out there, but we said ‘Is it time? Do we need to evolve a little bit here?’”

Are you listening, Jerry Jones?

Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett continues to be counted on by Jones to bring the team back to the playoffs. But his apparent lack of preparation, interview rhetoric and poor talent evaluation has the Cowboys looking up, not down, at the competition. The remainder of the season looks dreary. And Jones appears happy to stand pat. As Charles Barkley once brilliantly said, “I want my accountant to come from Princeton, not my head coach.”

Dak Prescott looks lost in the new offensive scheme. Ezekiel Elliott seems uninspired. The receiving core is a disaster. While the defense has had some stellar moments, the offense is dragging the team to new lows.

Jones and the coaching staff had an entire offseason to try to make the team better. They have failed miserably. They ended last season with a whimper, and have started the new season with the same lack of intensity and talent. In the first three games this season, the offense is at the bottom of the league in total yards, passing yards, points and touchdowns. The once lauded offensive line has allowed 11 sacks so far this season.

The team has lost respect for Garrett, and possibly some of the assistant coaches seasons ago. Time to “open up your mind,” Jones. 

 While the young team is building for the future, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban must deal with the past. And he, by most accounts, is shirking the responsibility. Cuban recently was on ESPN’s “The Jump” to address an NBA investigation that found sexual harassment was prevalent in the Mavericks’ offices. 

Cuban told Rachel Nichols, host of “The Jump,” that his specific treatment of one of his accused employees was “horrible … I had no excuse. I could’ve done better. I should’ve done better. In hindsight, I would’ve done it different.” 

“The findings of the independent investigation are disturbing and heartbreaking and no employee in the NBA, or any workplace for that matter, should be subject to the type of working environment described in the report,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement on NBA.com. 

“While nothing will undo the harm caused by a select few former employees of the Mavericks,” Silver said, “the workplace reforms and the $10 million [to women’s groups] that Mark has agreed to contribute are important steps toward rectifying this past behavior and shining a light on a pervasive societal failing — the inability of too many organizations to provide a safe and welcoming workplace for women.” Seems like a slap on the wrist to billionaire Cuban. 

This from a league that gave former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling a lifetime ban from the NBA, fined him $2.5 million and forced him to sell the team after recordings of him making racist comments went viral.

And there is the sorry state of the Texas Rangers. General Manager and President of Baseball Operations Jon Daniels was given a contract extension in June that will keep him around at least through the 2020 season. That’s quite a present for a guy who has bungled the franchise with huge contracts for average players, has few minor league prospects and has seen home attendance slide dramatically. 

His biggest move of the year? He fired popular manager Jeff Bannister on Sept. 21. Daniels said in a press conference that “ultimately, we concluded that we are in a different spot than when he was hired. Largely due to that, we felt a different voice was needed and appropriate as we are in a different position and slightly different direction.” 

Maybe a “different direction” is needed in the front office.

The local sports scene is bleak due to mismanagement and embarrassing office environments. 

At least we can look forward to the Stars opening the season on Thursday, Oct. 4.

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