Incident. Accusation. Controversy. Cover Up. Denial. Crafting the "real story" of what actually happened.
This is the master game in politics and sports these days so it seems. Winners and losers will be defined the minute the Coach, AD, and administration make the first decision on how to react to the "incident". They all know it is coming Once the ball starts rolling there is often an early point of no-return. The outcome more of less set by the actions taken.
Kids make mistakes. They really do and it is not a minority either. Many many athletes are going to do something that will compromise them and their teams and work against their best interests.
These events we see played out almost everyday in the press as athletes are accused or caught doing a variety of things from the garden variety drinking and drug use to the extreme sexual hazing incidents like the ones we saw play out in Philomath (Or) this season which is resulted in assault charges being brought against 6 boys. Coaches have been fired and others are being investigated for possible charges that could rise to sex crimes. Their names are displayed here with the story.
Underlying the decisions made is always a Moral Compass. If that compass has degrees of right and wrong the process is often doomed. Unless the word never gets out. That seems to be the goal in many cases I have covered.
Let's take the Philomath school district. Within hours of the incidents being reported the Superintendent got involved and took matters into her own hands. Within a few days games had been cancelled and Coaches put on leave. A full investigation was launched district wide and the result was sweeping. The football program was considered for cancellation. 3 games were forfeited and many athletes were kicked off the team. A message was sent and young men were and are being held accountable by the district and law enforcement.
"We condemn all forms of hazing, harassment, and physical, mental, or emotional abuse," the statement said released by Philomath School Superintendent Melissa Goff.
"Our first priority at all times is the safety of our students," Goff said in the statement. "We take hazing and bullying issues very seriously, and we have no tolerance whatsoever for the type of allegations raised in this investigation."
Philomath locals and all those near the football program understand that this is the big time. The Moral Compass is set true North and the line was drawn in the sand in red.
Not so in many cases- that Moral Compass wanders a good degree to the South.
Take recent incidents closer to home. No sweeping actions. A superstar player reinstated after a short suspension. That followed immediately by an all out Media lock down by the Coaches and Administration as the Wilsonville Wildcats prepare to play this Thursday Night. No comments or responses were offered to reporters questions following our article on Monday.
I was clear in my report. There were no denials when I asked about the existence of a film shot by said Superstar. I was advised that he was reinstated and may or may not start.
There are no denials and yet many many 3rd party confirmations have come in that something not so good happened . Naturally the media wants to know more. I asked a lot of questions in the article. People have sent me some very interesting things and some very damning information. Information so bad that I suspect it could hurt high school football recruits so I will not be releasing it. At least not until I am forced to. It is up to the adults in this situation to make the decisions they are comfortable with. Jobs and Careers are at risk. So this will be my last post on this issue.
With the story out there and still no answers despite the best efforts of big main stream press (TV and Print) the Wilsonville story is yet to have an ending. Let's hope it is a good one.
I am clear where my moral compass is. I speak out against hurtful and destructive incidents to the extent I can and I try to get answers. I treat everyone equally and pull for the little guy while holding up those at the top. I admire Philomath School district very much for what they have done. In fact there have been very few school districts I would not admire having worked with so very many.
Finally there exists a Code of Conduct at all schools. Seems like most kids do not read it or what it even means. Here is one example.
Our OSAA has a Code of Ethics. Violation of these Codes can lead to firing and sanctions. Read those here but one excerpt stands out.
The coach shall be aware that he or she has a tremendous influence, for either good or ill, on the education of the student-athlete and, thus, shall never place the value of winning above the value of instilling the highest ideals of character. The coach shall uphold the honor and dignity of the profession. In all personal contact with student athletes, officials, athletic directors, school administrators, the state high school athletic association, the media, and the public, the coach shall strive to set an example of the highest ethical and moral conduct.
I hope we all agree that we expect adherence to these tenants and equal treatment of all students, the protection of those less fortunate and in need, and special considerations to those with disabilities or "special abilities" as I tell all the special people in my life.
An old friend of mine wrote a great song within which a haunting lyric rings true:
"Every story has 3 sides.
1 that knows everything.
1 that knows nothing at all.
And 1 that knows too much."
Ask yourself as parents, players and student, coaches, and administrators no matter what school you are at - which one of the 3 above are you?
Faced with an Incident did you take appropriate action so that you can live with yourself in this life and the next? Is your moral compass aimed in the direction you are acting upon? Did you follow those codes and conduct yourself in a way your best you would expect you to?
I hope so. I truly hope so.
Finally thanks to all of the people of Wilsonville who reached out to me with support. It was very appreciated.
To those of you that made threatening phone calls and sent nasty emails I'm sorry. I won't stop caring. You just confirmed to me that something is going on. So thank you too.