A bloody eye for sportsPublished 12:17pm Thursday, September 5, 2013
Friday night was the beginning of the high school football season. When we think of this sport, we usually think about competitive games, comebacks and the pageantry of a sport that still inspires a community to come together like it does here in Hartselle.
However, the national perspective of Alabama high school football now is the face of Cullman defensive coordinator Matt Hooper’s bloody face.
As you already know, Hartselle’s archrival Cullman and former region opponent Walker were at the epicenter of a fight that’s been broadcast around the nation and world. The stories as reported by the Daily Mountain Eagle and Cullman Times have been picked up by the Associated Press. I even found a story about the fight on the New York Daily News’ website.
A quick survey of Twitter Tuesday morning showed that the fight was even shown on Good Morning America and the Today Show.
That’s not the type of image that we’d like to show, especially since our two major college football programs have won the last four BCS national championships.
Skirmishes during or following high school sporting events happen. Coaches and players can lose their cool during the heat of battle, but rarely does it ever come to blows.
I can’t say this is the worst fight that’s ever broken out between two schools. Five years ago, Carver-Montgomery and Valley had a major fight during the regional basketball tournament. The fight actually spilled over into the stands.
Both of these schools received a postseason ban.
In 2012, there were four fights during football games, but none of the eight schools involved received postseason bans. However, a large number of players were ejected from the game and received suspensions.
The only difference between these other fights and Friday night’s fight is that this one started with two coaches and that makes it worse for me. The coaches set an example for their players.
If a coach is either instigating a fight by his trash talking or he retaliates because of what someone else has said, what do you think the players will do?
For that reason, any penalties handed down by the AHSAA should be more severe than that of a player. I can’t say that the schools should receive a postseason ban.
However, the coaches should be severely sanctioned for their actions, resulting in suspensions of at least one game – maybe even the rest of the season.
You can’t allow coaches to fight. They should set the example by showing sportsmanship.
In this instance, these coaches look more like thugs than role models for the student athletes.
I’m not naïve enough to think that this couldn’t happen to Hartselle at any time. In the heat of battle, anything can happen.
Coaches must have enough self-control to keep their cool even when they want to fight back. That takes character.
If our coaches do that, then our players will emulate that same character.
Brent Maze is the managing editor of the Hartselle Enquirer.