I posted a picture Monday evening on Twitter of an email I received from a Cary-Grove fan suggesting that Trojans coach Brad Seaburg should be fired after his football team’s heartbreaking loss to Prairie Ridge last weekend.
I decided to take down the post after at least one person thought I was being supportive of the emailer. At least, they questioned, why give the disgruntled emailer, who I didn’t identify, a platform?
I thought it was a fair question, and it’s one that has stuck with me since our exchange.
Maybe voicing my displeasure with the emailer – he wasn’t the first to criticize Seaburg for Saturday’s game – with 140 characters wasn’t the correct medium. But this behavior shouldn’t simply be ignored.
I’ve witnessed a lot of terrible behavior from parents and fans in my seven years as a reporter and editor. Just Saturday, I listened to a Prairie Ridge fan refer to the coaching staff as “[bleeping] idiots” after he felt they waited too long to call a timeout.
Keep in mind this is a coaching staff that has won 25 consecutive games.
I’ve covered a physical confrontation after a parent assaulted a coach after a game. I’ve watched a fan chase officials down a school hallway. I’ve read a message board where parents mocked a teenage girl’s personal life. And I’ve lost track of the number of times a fan or parent has ridiculed a coach either directly, to administration or to me.
Of course, the good typically outweighs the bad. It was fantastic when dozens of parents showed up to a school board meeting this spring in support of Corky Card, Prairie Ridge’s varsity boys basketball coach, when it appeared he would fall victim to District 155’s reduction in force.
But it only takes a few bad apples to spoil it for everyone. When you talk candidly with coaches about why they’re stepping down from a position, there are typically two responses.
No. 1: They want to spend more time with their family. It makes sense. High school coaches are paid a stipend, but that’s only in-season, and running a successful program is a yearlong job.
No. 2: They’re tired of “drama” and “dealing with parents.” Reason No. 2 usually makes reason No. 1 more appealing. Why spend your Sunday night reviewing game film or a summer weekend traveling to a basketball shootout only to have a parent or fan suggest that you be fired or call you a bleeping idiot?
So why give the emailer a platform?
Hopefully to make an angry parent or fan think twice before he or she clicks “send” or screams from the bleachers.
Because more often than not, these attacks aren’t addressed to the media. They’re addressed directly to coaches or school administration via emails, phone calls, texts, social media or shouted directly from a sideline.
This isn’t to say that coaches shouldn’t be questioned or criticized. Coaches are generally more than happy to set up meetings with concerned parents.
But coaches who have spent years working with kids deserve more respect than this.
• Kyle Nabors is the sports editor of the Northwest Herald. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @KyleNabors.