Cumberland Times-News

Mike Burke - Sports

December 13, 2012

This picture just isn’t hanging straight

“Just when I thought you couldn't possibly be any dumber, you go and do something like this... and totally redeem yourself!”

Harry Dunne

We have a cement block falling out of a classroom ceiling in one of our structurally sound middle schools, thankfully avoiding any students and teachers, yet we’re up in arms because some kids didn’t get to go to a Ravens game.

Yeah, that would be us.

Is it fair to question if you would have distributed the tickets differently than Allegany head football coach Tom Preaskorn did? Of course, that’s human nature and it’s very easy to do when you’ve never gone through the experience before with half the amount of tickets you had the last time you didn’t go through it. That would be us, too — all of the answers, none of the questions.

But, yes, it is fair to wonder and to ask. So when Preaskorn was asked, he responded because, whether you agree with it or not, it was his call to make. And by the way, he did not break ground in going about it the way he did. Other coaches in the state have distributed the allotted tickets in the same fashion, so feel free to disagree with them as well. I’m not trying to say otherwise.

This was not a school-sanctioned event. If it were anything other than a Baltimore Ravens event, it would be a Maryland Football Coaches Association event. Matter of fact, I’d be willing to bet there are those at the Board of Education who are doing the “fact-finding” who had no idea a Ravens QB Challenge even existed until the first petty and vindictive e-mail landed in the inbox.

What’s been going on around here is not questioning or second-guessing play-calling during a game, although you can be certain back-to-back 21-20s have something to do with it. No, what’s going on is intruding on the overall job a coach has been hired and entrusted to perform. What’s next? We’re going to go into the classroom and tell a teacher how to teach his or her class? Well, wear a hardhat if it’s a classroom in one of the middle schools.

On top of all else, what’s been going on around here has been nothing if not spiteful and hateful, and it’s not only crossed the line into the world of a coach and a teacher, it’s been made to be taken personally and has crossed the line into the world of a family — a family all of us care for and respect.

Why so malicious?  Why so resentful? Why such low self-esteem? Participation Trophy Blues getting somebody down? What short memories the poor people of this small malignancy have. Why just five years ago with the first mention of naming rights, there were those who said we should name the stadium after Maj. Tom Preaskorn while he was serving our country in Iraq. Of course, this was just two seasons removed from his coaching the first and only football team in area history to a 14-0 state championship season.

Think NFL Films would want to do another story about us now? More like MTV.

Football coaches, for the most part, become football coaches because of a particular football coach he has had the privilege of learning from. Football coaches, more and more frequently, become former football coaches because there is a surplus of football coaches living in the community and sitting in the stands. Or at least people who believe themselves to be football coaches.

This, it can truthfully be said, comes with the territory. I’ve never known a football coach worth a hill of beans who didn’t, or doesn’t, understand that. It’s a dynamic as old as football itself, and as common as every place football has ever been played.

In this regard, we’re nothing special. Trust me, somebody else had the idea of know-it-all-but-never-done-it parent/fan first — likely the same guy who invented pee wee football.

The pettiness and the personal attacks we have been seeing, though, border on the extremely dangerous. For if such venom is even dignified, it puts at risk the ability of the people we must rely on to make decisions to make them. Thus, there will be fewer teachers, there will be fewer coaches, there will be even fewer leaders — inside and outside the classroom.

When it comes to leadership, Tom Preaskorn and people like him are the least of my worries. It’s much of the larger picture and the lack of structure in it that worries the hell out of me.

Mike Burke is sports editor of the Cumberland Times-News. Write to him at mburke@times-news.com

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Mike Burke - Sports
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