Hey, did you hear about about Illinois football coach Tim Beckman’s big chew on Saturday? No? There he was on the vistor’s sideline in Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium Saturday afternoon when he pulled out a can of chew in front of the crowd and a national football audience on television and proceeded to cave into his craving.
According to Adam Jacobi on the Bleacher Report, “if Tim Bechman wants to chew tobacco, let the man chew.” After all, chewing tobacco is a legal product. And it’s not like Coach Beckman chewing tobacco on the sidelines of a nationally televised football game will “kill your child.” It may not kill the child, but it sure kills the message that using tobacco is unhealthy.
Adam goes on to say that “young people are subjected to significant amounts of education about the dangers of tobacco use from the time they’re able to understand words.” After all, those warnings on the sides of the chewing tobacco can and packs of cigarettes scream out their message and educate all who see them, stopping people in their tracks from using….wait…they don’t. That’s why there is a “pediatric epidemic” of tobacco use according to the Surgeon General of the U.S. You can’t tell kids not to use tobacco and have the lesson stick. It’s a message that must be repeated often, but most states have dramatically decreased state funding of tobacco prevention programs (and cessation programs) making it more difficult to get the message out. But that’s not the Coach’s responsibility.
That message becomes more difficult to get across to the kids when a coach of a national college team is standing on the sidelines blatently dipping away in full view of everyone. It’s bad enough that he is using chew in the first place, but he broke NCAA rules that state “any tobacco productss by coaches, players and officials during practice and games is prohibited.”
Illinois reported the violaton to the Big Ten Conference and Coach Beckman has apologized several times for Saturday’s transgression. He said his tobacco use is “a bad habit and one that defintely will be corrected.”
What a great opportunity this is for Coach to educate himself about the dangers of smokeless tobacco, and tobacco use in general, and get the message out to the kids why they shouldn’t use tobacco.
Click here for the Bleacher Report on this story.