Pat Summitt should step down when she is good and ready

Pat Summitt should step down when she's good and ready and not one moment sooner. That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it.

As an East Tennessean who grew up applauding the achievements of Pat Summitt, I feel the need to speak out about the article Pat Summitt Shouldn't Continue Coaching. The writer is none other than Dan Bernstein -
CBSChicago.com Senior Columnist.

UT Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt recently revealed that she has been diagnosed with early onset dementia. Dan Bernstein writes that she should retire immediately. As a woman and an East Tennessean I feel that she should step down when is good and ready and not one minute sooner.

Her symptoms led her to search for answers that were found at Mayo Clinic a few months ago. She talked with her doctors, family and the folks at the University of Tennessee. With their support Pat Summitt chose to make a public announcement about her diagnosis. Her medical condition rocked Knoxville and has reverberated around the country. But, she isn't ready for the rocking chair just yet and I say good for her!

In reference to the above article, I'm shocked and deeply saddened that Mr. Bernstein wrote with such conviction about a woman he admittedly knows very little about. He calls for Pat Summitt to step down immediately.

In so doing, he denies her the ability to make her own decisions and questions the athletic director of the University of Tennessee. Then, he seems to question the support of her doctors and the ability of the students she works with to decide for themselves.

Frankly, I don't know much about her either. My knowledge is limited to hearing about her career and being inspired by it. It comes from hearing people credit her for pushing women's basketball into the forefront of college athletics around the globe. What was once seen as a second string sport is now a major force on both the college and professional level. I've heard many say that Pat Summitt deserves much of the credit.

I've also heard about her tireless efforts on behalf of the less fortunate. The generosity that she has shown to the community is legendary. Almost every nonprofit in the area has received signed basketballs or other items that were used for fundraising. Many nonprofits call her hero for speaking at dinners or otherwise raising funds.

Pat Summitt is gutsy, smart and seems to be able to bring out the best in people.  To be successful in any field you have to know when to push and when to back down. In short, you have to know your abilities and your limits.

Women like this don't come around every day and when they do, the women deserve to be given the respect they command. When something goes wrong (as it inevitably will) they don't deserve to be kicked to the curb and sidelined.

Early onset dementia is a terrible disease. Thousands of people around the country are afflicted. Most will never speak up about the disease and will hide their symptoms until the very end.

By speaking out, Pat Summitt has shown courage and has given hope to the many who will suffer from dementia. With the support of those around her, Pat Summitt has chosen to face her disease head on when she could have simply remained quiet. It is another action for which she is considered a role model for others to follow.

Sorry, Mr.Bernstein. I believe that Pat Summitt, her doctors, athletic director and students have the ability and the right to decide for themselves. No one knows how long her abilities and memories could be valuable to the team and that decision isn't ours to make.

She is surrounded by the best people in the business on several levels. If they feel that Pat Summitt shouldn't step down until she's good and ready then that's good enough for this UT Lady Vols fan. Hopefully it should be enough for everyone else too.

More information can be found on:
WBIR Facebook page
Wear Orange to Support Pat Summitt
Go Vols Extra - Pat Summitt

(Note: This opinion article was edited at 5:39 pm on 8/26/2011 to correct typographical errors. Sorry about that folks.)