Posts Tagged ‘Gary Pinkel’

Was I imagining it? During the first quarter of today’s Mizzou football game with Texas Tech the Missouri athletes seemed groggy, moving in slow motion, not hitting on all cylinders. Such a contrast with last week’s electricity with Texas. What could be different? Well, I know of one thing.

Their coach, Gary Pinkel, had fallen from grace. Bad judgement had resulted in a DWI. His mug shot was sprinkled over the news outlets. I can only imagine the conscious and unconscious impact on his players. It’s not, of course, that they couldn’t understand how such a thing might have happened. And I doubt that few would judge him harshly, however disappointed they might have been. Something else is at work, I would guess, and that something has to do with a profound mythical story. Myths tell the truth about the way life is, and in fact show us life with all its terror and beauty.

In the Grail myth the king receives a deadly wound, and though he continues to live it is in a diminished, weakened state. Only the cup of the Holy Grail can heal him, and so knights are dispatched throughout the realm to find it. Their journey is harrowing and necessary. And it is important not only for the king but for the kingdom. You see, the kingdom – mirroring the well being and leadership of the king – withers in direct proportion to the king’s withering. All nature and humanity reflect the wound. And, in turn, all nature and humanity are healed when the king is healed. Such is the depth of relationship and connection between them.

It is cavalier to say that coach Pinkel made an individual mistake, one that he shall resolve in isolation from the program under his leadership, free to move as though untouched by the wound of their king. In fact, the collective always reflects the wounds of those in whom they have vested trust, authority and love. In the same way that the wounds of the one are reflected in the many, so the healing of the one becomes the healing and restoration of the many. The many also have a role to play in the healing of the one, the finding of the cure through their own sacrifice.

The team strove mightily through the rest of the game, like knights going to battle, searching for the Grail, the cup of healing, that if only found and lifted to the lips of their leader could heal the wound of his flesh until it looked like that of a newborn baby.

That’s what they were doing in the last quarter of the game. I’m sure they found it, and therefore he did as well.

The DWI conviction of Mizzou Head Football coach, Gary Pinkel, rubs some salt in the moral wound. No, it’s not fair that the infraction would bring such media attention. Yes, there is a double standard for public officials, especially those working with young people. That’s how that ball bounces.

On a happy note, disclosure was total and swift as the athletic director, Mike Alden, at once declared Pinkel’s behavior unacceptable and assigning the penalty. Most of us, upon hearing that the coach will miss $40,000 for his one-week suspension were concerned. Perhaps we should pass the hat, organize a bake sale? Perhaps not. He has family to help him through this financial rough spot.

It’s hard being a public figure, no matter. Your personal life seems to shrink to little corners free of scrutiny. For those who are weak of spirit it drives them away from such locales. And that is understandable. In a different way, ministry is like that. And any clergy person has to figure out the public/private balance in their life.

I hope Gary will get over the embarrassment soon. The best way to move in that direction is what he has already started – simple declarations that he violated his own principles and let folks down. People are usually willing to forgive such missteps because we all have and still do make them. I know I”m not standing in line to judge him. There’s enough of me to puzzle over without presuming to fix him.