When Alabama Coach Nick Saban snapped at ESPN reporter Maria Taylor, something immediately felt off. To put it mildly, Coach Saban isn’t always a bucket full of sunshine, but this time his tone was outright angry.
“I think both guys are good players,” said Saban. “I think both guys can help our team, all right? So why do you continually try to get me to say something that doesn’t respect one of them? I’m not going to. So quit asking.”
Saban’s words weren’t a problem so much as his biting edge. Even for a coach with a prickly disposition towards the media, Saban lost his cool.
After the game, Saban realized he was wrong and apologized to Taylor.
“It was totally my responsibility,” said Saban, “and we apologized for it.”
Saban could have brushed it off. He could have shifted his focus to the next game. He could have treated Taylor as another annoyance from the press. Instead, he acknowledged his mistake and attempted to make amends.
Apologies might seem insignificant, but they’re in radically short supply these days. We’ve embraced the idea that saying we’re sorry means we’re weak. Too many of us are scared to admit our own flaws by letting someone else know we messed up.
The hilarity of the situation is that most of our flaws are hidden about as well as Coach Saban’s temper.
Don’t give me any psychobabble about being true to yourself or “saying it like it is.” Sometimes our totally actualized self is a butthead. When that side of our personality shows itself, each of us has the choice of trying to repair the damage we cause or letting it fester.
Taylor is a pro, but I can’t imagine she’d really want to speak to Saban more than necessary after having her head ripped off. Hopefully, Saban’s apology lessens any bitterness from the experience. An apology doesn’t erase poor choices, but it does give the aggrieved person a reason to give us a second chance.
When we fail to address the harm our actions, words, and social media posts cause, we’re often isolating ourselves. Colleagues don’t want to chat, family becomes distant, and forget about making new friends. Pretty soon, we’re telling it like it is, but nobody is listening.
If we want to avoid that fate, saying “I’m sorry” and actually treating others better is a prudent path. Sometimes it’s not as simple as words. When the injury is deep, repairing the harm may require significant time and energy.
Each of us knows the people in our lives who need to hear an apology from us. It’s awkward. They may not receive it well. At times, someone may be so hurt that he or she may not be ready to accept our apology at all. In truth, there are plenty of reasons an apology is inconvenient.
Stop making excuses. If Nick Saban can apologize, so can you.