Texas Tech basketball: Go ahead and hate Chris Beard, it’s what sports are all about

Jan 22, 2022; Austin, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns head coach Chris Beard tries to excite the fans during the second half against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Frank C. Erwin Jr. Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 22, 2022; Austin, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns head coach Chris Beard tries to excite the fans during the second half against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Frank C. Erwin Jr. Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports /

Sunday, long-time Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reporter and columnist Don Williams published a piece that said, in essence, that former Texas Tech basketball head coach Chris Beard does not deserve the hatred and vitriol that Red Raider fans are spewing in his direction ahead of Beard’s return to Lubbock on Tuesday night.  But Williams is completely missing the point with his thoughts.

He’s forgotten that unabashed hatred is what makes sports fun.  Thus, Red Raider fans should lean into the venom that they are spitting in Beard’s direction because that’s what sports are all about.

Williams’ contention is that Beard did a great job while at Tech and left the program in a better place than he found it.  And none of those facts can be disputed.  Going 75-30 during his time in Lubbock and leading Tech to the 2019 National Title Game and Big 12 regular-season championship, Beard accomplished far more than any coach in the history of Texas Tech basketball.  That’s not up for debate.

But accomplishments don’t mean a sports figure is immune to hatred from a fan base, especially when he spurns that fan base for its most hated rival.   We’ve seen this time and again in the history of sports and in each instance, the scorned fan base has responded with pure, unadulterated hate.

Remember when LeBron James left the NBA’s Cleveland Cavilers for the Miami Heat in 2010?  An Ohio native, James went from the most beloved figure in Cleveland since Jim Brown to the most vilified person in the history of the city as fans took to the streets to burn their LeBron James jerseys in anger.  And when he returned for the first time as a member of the opposition, was he greeted with a standing ovation for leading the Cavs to never-before-seen heights?  Nope.  He was booed lustily and unceasingly throughout and even reportedly had batteries thrown at him.

While no one wants to see anything other than verbal jabs thrown in Beard’s direction on Tuesday night, the similarities between his return to Lubbock and LeBron’s return to Cleveland are easy to see.  Remember, Beard referred to Texas Tech as “Mama” in his first press conference as Red Raider head coach saying that when Mama calls you home, you have to go (a line borrowed from legendary college football coach Bear Bryant).

So both James and Beard left places they said they considered (or at least claimed to consider) to be home to try to find greener pastures.  And while everyone has the right to decide where they want to work and live their lives, those that once supported them have just as much of a right to root for their failure in their new locales, especially in the world of sports where figures such as Beard and James are being paid millions of dollars, thus securing their financial futures and making it more all the more trivial should they land flat on their faces in their greener pastures.

Maybe Williams doesn’t get it because he is a reporter and not a fan.  His role by definition has to be that of a detached observer.  Therefore, he’s able to separate the emotions from the facts.

But to expect fans to do the same is unrealistic.  Instead, he should save his energy and refrain from trying to tell Texas Tech fans how to feel.  After all, if we want to hate Chris Beard, that’s exactly what we are going to do and no holier-than-thou newspaper column is going to change that.  Nor should it.

Sports are popular in our society because they are a safe outlet for our emotions.  They are where we experience hope, disappointment, triumph, failure, love, and hate in a realm that is akin to a padded room where we really can’t be hurt – not in the way that we can be hurt in other areas of life.

So in a world where hatred and division seem to be at an all-time high and where emotions have been stressed to a breaking point as we’ve never seen in our lifetimes, we all need a safe place at which to aim our hatred and what better avenue exists for that cause than sports?  And for Texas Tech fans, there’s no better villain to rally against than Beard.

This is a man who spent his time in Lubbock making private assurances to his most loyal and financially generous supporters that he was in it for the long haul only to jump ship the moment Texas showed him a little skin.  This is a man who waited to announce his intention to leave until April 1st, 2021, the first day that his contractual buyout dropped by a million dollars thus adding injury to insult for Texas Tech, a move that made the optics of his departure all that much worse regardless of whether or not it is the standard operating procedure for most big businesses.

But most of all, this is a man who spent five years convincing everyone in West Texas that he loved Lubbock and loved being a Red Raider.  We now know that was all just bluster from a man who doesn’t appear to have a sincere bone in his body as everything he sold to the good people of West Texas proved to be mere snake oil.

So load up on your sports hate Texas Tech fans and let it rain down upon Chris Beard on Tuesday night.  (Of course, there are restraints and limits that we hope the Red Raider fan base adheres to – no throwing of objects or over-the-top threats for instance). Let him know just what you think of him and how unwelcome he is in Lubbock these days. He’s a big boy.  He can take it.

As for Don Williams, he’s free to his opinion as well and if he doesn’t feel Beard deserves hatred, then that’s his opinion and he’s paid to share such thoughts.  But as for me and my house, we will hate Chris Beard until the day he retires.  After all, that’s what makes sports so much damn fun.