Small towns come together to view the spectacle known as high school football on Friday nights at this time of year. Proud moms, dads, sisters, brothers, cousins, friends and any other interested local, flock to the local high schools to watch aspiring athletes compete on the gridiron. For the few who do not know, high school football is not only big business here in the South, but somewhat of a religion unto itself. There are those few things that has bonded communities in this part of the US like late summer/autumn high school football.
In the past few years, the sport has been met with controversy. Whether it’s praying in the stands or even on the field before the games start to medical injuries, high school football has become somewhat of a cultural hot potato.
Despite the controversies, high school football strongly continues throughout the South. There’s nothing that can tear down this tradition – even a recent brawl at a game in Alabama. The “footbrawl” occurred at the end of a game in Jasper, located in the northern portion of Alabama, south of Huntsville. The two rival schools, Walker and Cullman High are about 40 minutes apart with no great “straight shot drive” between them. One must take Alabama 69 and a portion of I-65 to make the trip. Both the towns of Cullman and Jasper – where Walker High School is located – present what makes America exceptional. These towns are home to hard working folk who only wish to lose themselves for a while in their own brand of “Friday Night Lights.”
Thus, it’s tough to believe that there was a brawl at a recent high school football game in a tame Alabama town. What would drive participants on the gridiron to engage in fisticuffs? Apparently, it wasn’t the players caught up in the skirmish, it was the coaches. When word spread about the coaches behaving badly, the nation’s sports world went apoplectic and for good reason.
For those of us with common sense, the most glaring reason for the disbelief at the brawl is that adults ought to be setting a good example for the young – especially high school football players who need leadership. On that particular Friday night, leadership left the field only to be replaced by mindless selfishness and immaturity. Indeed when one is so emotionally enveloped in the game, frustration can easily set in and that’s quite understandable – to a point. Still, good leadership skills ought to trump that frustration by keeping it in check. Heck, go back to the locker rooms and kick a trash can if you experienced a another loss like Walker did on that Friday evening. Well, scratch that idea since no one should damage school property. How about hitting the school’s punching bag?
No one will ever know or even experience how frustrated the coaches were on that evening, but the brawl is not an excuse to simply “blow off steam.” If the coaches had any sense of decency, they would have done some “Saturday Morning Quarterbacking,” by feeling like putting morning eggs on their faces.
If the coaches have their day in court on battery charges, perhaps a just sentence to be handed down is probation and community service mixed with both coaches standing outside with sandwich boards that proclaim them “idiots.” There’s nothing like a public shaming for this embarrassing spectacle. So challenge to any judge who might see these guys in her or his court: order them to stand outside the Cullman, Alabama Chick-fil-A on Cherokee Avenue with those “idiot” sandwich boards for a good two months.
Video from the area’s local TV16 shows Cullman assistant Matt Hopper brawling with Walker coach John Holladay. Local authorities had to come to the rescue to split up the fighting coaches. Hopper walked out bloodied. Some say that Holladay threw the first punch.
Walker lost to Cullman 13-10 on a six-yard run with 18 seconds left in the game. Obviously, rage built up inside Mr. Holladay after having a much-needed victory “snatched away from him at the last minute.” Most of us can understand when thinking that you’re going to win, only to have that win quickly taken away at a crucial moment. But, does that fact give one a license to be the ultimate “sore loser?” The obvious answer is no and hopefully the players learned that one must keep that type of anger in check – because not keeping frustration in check is not only unsportsmanlike, it is simply a pure absence of character and leadership.