Monday was a beautiful day and I laughed a lot, as I try to do every day. But there were three things that really hurt my feelings, not enough to spoil my day in the September sunshine but all three causing me to pause. Usually my normal reaction to bad news is that I “play it down and pray it up” but I’m in the mood to “vent” because I want my America back and sometimes I worry some of our goodness is slipping away.
THE FIRST SAD THING
My buddies at WRCB aired a segment on the 11 o’clock news Sunday night that “hundreds” of our teachers and school officials gathered earlier in the evening in a system-wide prayer service at the Silverdale Baptist Church. Our teachers prayed collectively – and mightily, I must add – for the 44,000 students who attend our Hamilton County schools. How cool is that!
But then there was this: They were scared to let any of the rest of us know about it. Ruthie Panni, one of the system's best teachers, tried to explain. “It would have been much easier to send out an email, but we didn’t want to give anyone the opportunity to say we had misused Hamilton County email or equipment.”
You’ve got to be kidding me! I am absolutely furious that five percent of those who live in America are ruining what 95 percent of the rest of us adore. When our teachers have to slip around so no one will protest, so that the “Legion of the Miserable” will miss a photo-op, it is time to shout down those who in any way would impair a teacher’s love for her kids and her Savior. Conversely, the teachers have much better focus than I do.
"I believe God has a plan for every purpose and has a love for every person and if we can be a part of sharing that, to me that's a greater message than being scared of some people who don't agree with me,” my “newest” favorite teacher told Channel 3’s Megan Brantley. Ms. Panni even said the organizers were careful not to talk or meet on school property. “You have to respect the fact that not all of us have the same faith and that's part of being an American … that we all have that freedom of religion.”
But there is more. “What we're offering is for teachers to be encouraged in their faith and how that's going to impact their lives in the schools," she said, as a teacher knowing full and well how her influence, her gentle hand and her love may be the best some children will get all day.
Bethanie Reynolds, another of my “newest” favorite teachers, added this: “Sharing our faith is more than reading the Bible to our students -- it's how we treat them, it's praying every morning for our students. It's treating people with respect and with love and that doesn't infringe on anyone's religious rights."
Bravo and amen. I just hate the fact they had to hide such glorious dedication to our kids.
THE SECOND SAD THING
My favorite Internet sites were abuzz early Monday morning over a sign that some sicko had the audacity to wave during last Saturday’s College GameDay telecast on ESPN. As is the custom, many in the crowd that come to watch the live telecast are encouraged to yell and cheer. Some carry signs in hopes the TV cameras will catch them. But one that could be seen over announcer Demond Howard’s shoulder read, “Hi Lizzy Seeberg” and the reaction has ranged from “horrified” to “subhuman” to far, far worse.
About the sign: Lizzy Seeberg, a 19-year-old freshman at St. Mary’s – a small women’s college next to the Notre Dame campus -- told university police last August that she had been raped by a fellow student and that he was a Notre Dame football player. Within days she got a text that read, “Don’t do anything you may regret. Messing with Notre Dame football is a bad idea.” Then nine days after she reported the incident to police, Lizzy took her life by overdosing on pills that had been prescribed for her depression and anxiety.
A long and rambling explanation, allegedly written by an “activist” who was angered by the way Notre Dame handled the manner, was soon forthcoming but in no way could it condone the repulsive and hideous behavior of whoever is responsible for such an insult to all of us.
THE THIRD SAD THING
In the many years I covered sports – especially college football – I would sometimes write the day before a game that so-and-so will not play due to a “groin pull.” Since a groin pull is almost impossible to detect, and won’t heal until the athlete stops running for about a week, it was actually more of a code word back in the day to explain to those-in-the-know that the player had misbehaved enough to be suspended for a game or two.
Believe it or not, there was a time when a coach would tell you that Billy Bob got in a huge fight at a bar and was suspended for a game. But then the coach would say, “We’re running him every day after practice until he drops to his knees … but put in your story that he has a groin pull.”
In a gentler day both a coach and a reporter would protect athletes unless they were booked by police, but it is sad to me that today’s coach-reporter relationships aren’t like that at all. Now it’s more me-versus-you and when a Times Free Press reporter backed UTC football coach Russ Huesman into a corner, the coach allegedly told a lie in an effort to protect his player. That is so terribly sad, especially compared to my happier days and close friendships.
The proper thing for any coach – or any person -- to do is say “Sorry, I have no comment.” Rule One is never lie. Rule Two is never lie to a reporter because it erodes any trust. Rule Three is apologize, learn from the mistake, and never do it again. But, boy, that kind of stuff still makes me sad.