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Time to move on from comments

By From page B1 | January 17, 2012

There is, at this point, nothing that can be said to smooth the choppy waters through which newly appointed Davis High girls soccer coach Sara Stone now sails.

It’s been a week and the vitriol that still flows is disturbing.

Last week, I weighed in, agreeing in spirit with a letter that was sent to our editor. The letter made points about Stone and her father, Ashley Yudin, being model contributors to Davis soccer and that people should not be concerned about the most talented (or best fit) kids not being chosen for the high school team.

I disagreed with a public comment made at a December Board of Education meeting voicing the concern that Stone might look only to club players, not considering AYSO kids.

Three things to note:

* The three of us (me, Scott Ragsdale and Cary Boyden) involved in voicing differing opinions about tryouts and the Yudin connection to Legacy club soccer provided our names, stood tall in our beliefs and we continue to provide honest assessments. We each stand behind our views.

* My column and the accompanying Sara Stone feature were never a debate about the ability of Sara Stone as a soccer coach. But it evolved into such an argument in The Enterprise online posts.

Before Stone was chosen, I talked with administrators, some of her former players and AYSO and Legacy coaches — past and present. I’ve yet to hear a discouraging word about Sara Stone and am happy for her. This is coming from a guy who wrote a note of recommendation for another candidate.

I will continue talking with folks about every choice in every sport at Davis High School. But there are some folks I will not chat with — which leads to my next comment.

* Back to “providing their names … standing tall …” I don’t deal in anonymous criticism. I understand why a parent would hesitate to undersign a concern about a teacher or coach if their kid was still involved or affected by the subject person. But if a concern is so overwhelming, there are channels through which to vent, even to effect change.

Publicly shredding someone’s character; anonymously going public with a charge that may or may not be true (or isolated); using threats (as at least one of our removed comments did); and continuing the argument long after any meaningful dialogue has expired is making no sense to me.

Handling personnel matters in a public forum is a tricky matter. Trustees and school officials try to make the process “transparent,” as Superintendent Winfred Roberson once told me. It is usually an advise-and-consent process.

Administrators make the final decisions on hiring coaches after hearing from a nonbinding selection committee, which is charged not only with judging the candidates from what they know, but offering their two cents about what they hear about So-And-So.

Judging from the bazillion Sac-Joaquin Section titles DHS has won, looking at the literally thousands of Devil athletes who have earned university scholarships over the years and thinking about the longevity at the high school that most of our coaches have, it occurs to me that this district and school administration have a pretty good handle on who is best for the kids.

Perfect science? No. Good track record? Absolutely. Next step? Let Sara Stone coach in peace. The anonymous attacks — true or not — are less than courageous and are hurting a program that should be basking in the glow of winning its fourth CIF championship last spring.

While I Have You Here: I remain in the minority about what makes for good online fodder in a newspaper’s comment sections.

At The Enterprise, we allow anonymous comments, within a stated policy that reserves our right to remove certain libelous and threatening entries.

If it were up to me, I wouldn’t allow anonymous comments — not for public consumption. But I’ve been told it makes for healthy public debate.

I’m just feeling bad that some of us don’t have something more positive to talk about — especially now that points have been made.

Can we move on?

— Bruce Gallaudet is a staff writer at The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at [email protected] or (530) 747-8047.

Bruce Gallaudet

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