The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Opinion

September 8, 2013

Learning a lesson on the field

The Cullman Times on postgame brawl at Walker-Cullman game:

High school football rivalries can reach the boiling point where emotions are concerned, evidenced last week by a postgame brawl at the Walker-Cullman game.

As expected there are consequences when tempers escalate to the point of violence. A video shows Walker’s (former) head coach John Holladay slugging assistant Cullman coach Matt Hopper. The two men then disappeared in a sea of bodies. Hopper emerged with bruises and bloody lacerations.

Before the two men tangled, the video indicates some words were exchanged between the coaches. What was said remains a mystery. Nevertheless, the violence occurred. The damage was done.

An old rivalry took a bad turn. Emotions were expected to be high, but the fact that two coaches locked into a brawl is disturbing. Sometimes the point that football is just a game is lost in the macho arena of a sporting event. Winning prompts a celebration while losing often causes anger. Why can’t coaches stick to the higher principle of serving as teachers for their players?

Holladay has resigned as head coach at Walker. He would have been suspended for the season anyway after the Alabama High School Athletic Association ruling Thursday afternoon. Hopper will also sit out the remainder of the season. An unnamed sanction is also planned against a Cullman player who speared a Walker player during the brawl.

What’s left for this old rivalry is to rebuild a sense of sportsmanship and trust. The AHSAA has recommended the two schools participate in a professional development session to help bring the emotions back to earth.

Responsibility for what happened last week has to be shared by both schools. The AHSAA has found fault on both sides, which may be irritating to some Cullman fans. Nonetheless, students are the losers when their mentors and role models engage in such immature actions. The penalties should be accepted without a lot of disagreement. The time for learning a lesson and restoring order has arrived.

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