Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Prodigal Son Prodigizes Again

Did you see how I just made up a word there? Prodigizes. I feel like the President.

Yesterday, word came down that Ryan Perrilloux would miss all of Spring Practice. WJBO reported it was due to an incident at a restaurant, and someone on another message board said that the incident was an argument between Ryan and the waitress.

The word "argument" can mean many things, from a simple exchange of words to an embarrassing screaming match. The poster did not elaborate. For the moment, let's assume that what happened was a moderate argument, by which I mean there were some raised voices and bad feelings but without any threats of violence or excessive scene-making. It may turn out down the road that this assumption does not hold, but we can deal with that when the time comes.

Assuming this to be true, I think it's a bad move to have suspended him further. I agree with the commentators who have said that an argument with a waiter is not a big enough deal to warrant this kind of action, but I want to go a step further.

First, a little background. As many of you know, I am an attorney. One category of people I often work with are parents who have had their children taken away from them by the state. Each case is unique, but there are some generalities that hold pretty often. People in this category often have poor conflict resolution skills (which is code for saying that they have short tempers or cry a lot more than you'd think). They also often have difficulty setting medium- and long-range goals for themselves and meeting those goals. Often, it's because they never have done it before.

Anyway, as an attorney, one of my jobs is to do my best to help them correct some of these problems. You can imagine that one obstacle I run into is that they are trying to do this immediately after the very emotional setback of losing their children to the State. For people whose coping skills are behind the curve anyway, this is a problem.

The next obstacle, and the one I see parallels to here, is that they often make a lot of progress for a while, and do very well, but have some minor setback some time before they are able to get their children back. This minor setback, which may be something on the order of having to move from one house to another due to a landlord problem, which ordinarily you might think would set them back only a little bit, discourages them and they lose hope. Then everything falls apart.

I am afraid this may happen with Ryan Perrilloux. By all accounts, he was making a lot of progress in the eyes of the coaches, even going so far as to be reinstated to the team. Now, due to some minor setback, he has been publicly embarrassed again and has suffered a setback in his effort to rejoin the team fully, all over something that would be no big deal if it was you or me. If Ryan is anything like my clients (and I suspect he is), this is a very dangerous time in his life. This is the time when he could be thinking, "I don't have what it takes to do this," or, "They expect more from me than from anyone else." This is the time when he may lose hope that this can work out, and stop trying.

All over an argument with a waiter at a restaurant. If I was Les Miles, and there wasn't more to it than this, I would have just let this one go and let him rejoin the team. Anyone at any time can get into an argument with a waiter at a restaurant. He may not have been in the right (But who knows? Maybe he was.), but it just doesn't seem serious enough to me to warrant the risk that this could really turn out bad.

I assure you this is not a topic I relish talking about. This is a difficult spot for LSU to be in, and I do not like seeing a young man with such physical gifts potentially not be able to use them to his fullest because he has trouble getting along with people and following rules. This story, however, will go a long way to setting the narrative for the LSU football program not only for this season, but into the future as well.


Anonymous said...

Good analogy. May be accurate, may not. I've got people telling me that if Perriloux remains on the team they are done with the LSU Football team.

Anonymous said...

He should have been kicked off the team before this anyway. Its obvious this is beyond a discipline thing. Its more about winning.