There is absolutely a problem with ‘absolute’ discretion

By From page A10 | March 23, 2014

Bob Dunning is right. His friend Bill’s use of the word “absolute” in conjunction with the kind of “discretion” high school coaches should have did ruffle my feathers.

As the historian and moralist Lord Acton warned in 1887: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” There is absolutely no reason, at this or any other juncture, for the school board to “make it clear that coaches have absolute discretion as to the conduct of their teams”; in fact, in this case, when retaliation against a player is suspected, that would be the opposite of what should be made clear.

And that’s the message I got from the school board’s decision (which, by the way, my cohort does not consider “highly unpopular”) — coaches do not have absolute discretion.

That was the right message to send, perhaps especially our high school volleyball program.

While it sounds as though Bob’s friend Bill’s kids all played for the same coach at Davis High, my kids played for six. From a parental perspective, my worst experience, by far, was with the girls volleyball coaches. Beyond attending practices when they were sick, players were required to cheer for teams other than their own no matter what their homework load or other responsibilities. One player was benched, long term, for pointing out that the seniors’ T-shirt was meant to be designed by the seniors, not the coach.

The last thing we need is a bunch of Bobby Knights running our teams at Davis High. Coaching young people is about a lot more than winning games and, thankfully, the majority of high school coaches I’ve interacted with know that.

Reinstating Coach Crawford could have sent the message that retaliation, or other bullying tactics, might be tolerated in this school district. I, for one, am pleased that our school board did not send that message.

Belinda Martineau

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