Monday, January 26, 2009

An act of compassion that transcended sports

At the prodding of former Dallas Cowboys football great Troy Aikman, National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell will hold a press conference on Friday hailing the private high school football coach from Grapevine who engineered a surprise welcome for TYC football players from the Gainesville unit, including cheerleaders, vocal fans, a band, and a forty yard "spirit line" they ran through entering the stadium. (See prior Grits coverage.)

There's no doubt the coach, whose brainchild garnered national media attention, wasn't looking for earthly rewards when he urged half his own team's fans - for one night - to root for the opposing team. But according to AP:

A story in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram the next day led to a column by ESPN's Rick Reilly. Troy Aikman made sure Goodell read it, leading to the invitation for this weekend. The fallout has helped Gainesville, too, with Williams noticing warmer welcomes at basketball games and more kids wanting to play football.

"Coach Hogan inspired an entire community in an extraordinary way and gave those young men on the Gainesville team a chance to believe in themselves," Goodell said. "It's a powerful message and shows how football can be such a positive force in shaping values and building communities."

In a sense, Coach Kris Hogan is right when he said, "I hate it that this thing that we did is so rare ... Everybody views it as such a big deal. Shouldn't that be the normal m.o., though?" But the truth is what happened that night in Grapevine really was rare, special and inspirational - an act of compassion that transcended sports.

Good for Aikman and Goodell and bully for Coach Hogan for this much-deserved recognition.

MORE: I'd missed this excellent, extensive coverage from the Fort Worth Star Telegram by sports reporter Dave Thomas, who covered the game for the paper.

WATCH VIDEO OF THE GAME: Via the Star-Telegram.


Anonymous said...

Good for the coach! Too bad he isn't in charge of fixing TYC! Way to go Coach!

Don Dickson said...

I read about this. It almost made me cry. It was truly an outstanding gesture.

Anonymous said...

I read about this and did Cry. This is recognition that is well deserved

Don Dickson said...

And now, in stark contrast, this story:

DALLAS — The coach of a Texas high school basketball team that beat another team 100-0 was fired Sunday, the same day he sent an e-mail to a newspaper saying he will not apologize "for a wide-margin victory when my girls played with honor and integrity."

Kyle Queal, the headmaster for Covenant School, said in The Dallas Morning News online edition that he could not answer if the firing was a direct result of coach Micah Grimes' e-mail disagreeing with administrators who called the blowout "shameful."

Queal did not immediately answer phone messages or e-mail from The Associated Press.

On its Web site last week, Covenant, a private Christian school, posted a statement regretting the outcome of its Jan. 13 shutout win over Dallas Academy. "It is shameful and an embarrassment that this happened. This clearly does not reflect a Christlike and honorable approach to competition," said the statement, signed by Queal and board chair Todd Doshier.

Grimes, who has been criticized for letting the game get so far out of hand, made it clear in the e-mail Sunday to the newspaper that he does not agree with his school's assessment.

"In response to the statement posted on The Covenant School Web site, I do not agree with the apology or the notion that the Covenant School girls basketball team should feel embarrassed or ashamed," Grimes wrote in the e-mail, according to the newspaper. "We played the game as it was meant to be played. My values and my beliefs would not allow me to run up the score on any opponent, and it will not allow me to apologize for a wide-margin victory when my girls played with honor and integrity."

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Contrast that, Don, with the Grapevine Faith coach. According to Rick Reilly: "Maybe it figures that Gainesville played better than it had all season, scoring the game's last two touchdowns. Of course, this might be because Hogan put his third-string nose guard at safety and his third-string cornerback at defensive end. Still."

Anonymous said...

Mr. Dickson,

Since you represent an employee organization, do you think the employment of the Covenant coach should have been terminated? Do you think he has a chance of prevailing in a wrongful termination suit or was his speech not protected?

Don Dickson said...

I'm going to guess that the coach was an at-will employee who could be discharged for any reason or for no reason at all.

The 100 points doesn't bother me. The zero points bothers me. You don't shut out a team in a basketball game without playing some "tenacious D." Seems to me that by the time the score gets to be 59-zip, it's time to ease up on the "tenacious" stuff. That's not "honor and integrity," that's bullying.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you about the score, defense, etc. just wanted your input on the employment termination and speech protection. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a story. I missed this the first go around when it was posted in December. Actions like this are what kids in TYC really need. I am so sad to see no mention of this story whatsoever on TYC's website (there is a whole section for media reports related to TYC), and further saddened to see the lack of comments by TYC staff who are usually so vocal on this blog. I hope the agency can be restored to what it used to be, actions from Faith Academy should inspire everyone.

Anonymous said...

The cover-up policy in place at tyc since its inception I would think make it difficult to get any publicity to the public, even what some would call good publicity. I think what is not being said here is how we are all amazed that someone rallied a group of people to show an act of kindness to another group who may not have had any kindness shown them in a long time.
This story made this bad ass state boy cry. Any chance of gainsville having a mock trial team to come to court at my kids high school? I bet a lot of tyc kids would make good lawyers with the right mentor. Most would have to be good at cobbling words ie manipulation, just need to teach them to read and write on an ap high school level and convince them that they actually could go to college.Sheldon tyc#47333