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Coaches’ probation is justifiable

My silence is broken.

Up until this point I’ve refrained from addressing what unfolded on the night of Friday, October 1 at the Parrott Academy at Northeast Academy football game.

As most know by now, that is if you saw the video, two men, dressed in shirts similar to the team colors worn by Parrott Academy, left the bench area of the visitor’s sideline and allegedly began the process of removing players from both teams involved in play that ended on the Parrott sideline.

I watched the video several times and this is my personal take on what occurred. The Northeast Academy quarterback threw a pass intended for his receiver. The ball was intercepted by a Parrott defender who, in turn, had open space in front of him as he headed down the sideline towards the endzone.

Somewhere (I’m guessing) in the neighborhood of the Northeast 20-to-30 yardline, the Parrott player was tackled by two Northeast players. It did not appear that the tackle was anything other than normal (the video was shot from the Northeast sideline and the play, as mentioned earlier, occurred clear across the field).

I saw one of the two men appear to either bend over or kneel at the area of the tackle. A second later, one of the Northeast players (I confirmed that by noticing it was a player dressed in red) was seen abruptly rolling away from the point of the tackle. In my humble opinion, that movement resembled being forcibly being pushed away.

Over the past few weeks there have been numerous statements made on media websites, including ours, in regards to this incident. Some defended the actions of the two men, later identified as Parrott Academy football coaches, for protecting their players. Others have called for an apology from the two coaches for allegedly accosting a Northeast player.

My take on this is simple….at no time should a coach (head or assistant) touch a player from an opposing team, other than to shake their hand at the end of the game or to provide immediate medical attention if he is closer to a play resulting in an injury.

I’ve covered high school and college football for a number of newspapers since the late 1970’s. At no time have I witnessed a coach touch an opposing player…before, during or after a play. It’s unacceptable…plain and simple, no matter what has or is unfolding on the field of play.

For proof of what can happen if such an incident occurs, look no further than Ohio State coaching legend Woody Hayes, who won three national championships and 13 Big Ten titles. Even though he was infamous for verbal and physical clashes with the media, his stellar career was forever tarnished on December 29, 1978 during the Gator Bowl where he punched a Clemson University player, who had intercepted a pass and was run out-of-bounds along the OSU bench area, in the throat, thus sparking a bench-clearing brawl. Hayes was fired the next day.

Thankfully, there was no bench-clearing brawl in the Northeast-Parrott game….just two grown men opting to act like children.

Last week, the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association placed the entire Parrott Academy coaching staff on probation. Hopefully that will send a message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated by any football coach.

Cal Bryant is Editor of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald and Gates County Index. He can be contacted at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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