Archive for Thursday, February 26, 2004

Opinion: Bush league

February 26, 2004

While milling around town recently, I ran into someone who asked me a curious question.

"I read your sports column," the person said. "Do you really stand behind Bruce Courtney?"

I looked at the person with parts of curiosity and astonishment, wondering where my message got lost.

"Well, you read my column," I said. "What do you think?"

In case you don't know, Courtney is the head basketball coach at Basehor-Linwood High School, who recently announced he would resign at season's end.

Last week, I used this space to tell readers why I respect Courtney as a coach, teacher and person. I stand by everything I wrote and I'm going to add a little more this week.

Let me tell you why: I'm writing more this week because of the conduct displayed by some half-brain, low rent, redneck buffoons during the senior night basketball game at the high school last week.

Instead of honoring the seniors, which was the point, some people exhibited what I'll describe kindly as porous behavior, drawing attention away from the players and onto themselves.

During the game, people were yelling things at the coaches that would peel paint from sheet rock, a practice that would continue throughout the game.

I don't mind people disagreeing with a coach as long as its done in a respectful manner. What I do mind is when people make their points of contention a distraction to the program.

I won't lump each Bobcat fan in with these reckless few, but I will say this, nothing but 100 percent support of the program, the players and the coaches will turn things around on the hardwood.

I'm not going to use any names on who did or didn't do what. My former coach and teacher, Bruce Courtney, wouldn't want that, and I won't tarnish his teachings by exhibiting similar classless behavior.

Why do people do it, though? Maybe Courtney didn't win enough basketball games (as if that were valid enough excuse). I really don't know the answer. But I do know this, stupidity usually doesn't need a reason.

High school is an important time for the athletic and personal development of student athletes. Teachers and coaches can inspire those listening to them like no one else. I know this because of the example Bruce Courtney and a handful of other teachers and coaches set for me.

Society needs these people, as does the Basehor-Linwood School District and its athletic programs. But, with the shameful manner displayed last week, what dignified coach would subject themselves to that treatment?

I find it disturbing that now, at a time in sports when coaches' names are mentioned as frequently in the police blotter as the sports pages, at a time when good coaches and teachers are proving even more invaluable, that someone would openly degrade a man who has dedicated his life to teaching and coaching student athletes.

I ran this column idea by a few people who warned me about writing it. They said it would make people angry and I would hear from these fanatics eventually. Maybe that's true and if so, let me say this: I'm not made of glass, my e-mail address can be found on just about every page in this paper and my office line is (913) 422-2168.

In case my message is muddied again, let me be clear. Do I stand behind Bruce Courtney? Nah, I stand in front of him. The better question is why don't you?

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