The internet (and my cell phone) have been abuzz with this so called scandal involving UConn’s former QB/WR and my Euro-ball teammate DJ Hernandez. DJ was named the head coach of Southington High School (Connecticut) this year at the ripe old age of 24. For a man this young to be a head ball coach, especially in CT (notoriously an old boys club) it is a tremendous feat. But here we have a situation where he was accused of cheating by using the other team’s WR’s wristband (Manchester High School, for those who care….I don’t).
Now, I have a long history with the man in the video above (Jeff Jacobs) but I’ve made my peace with Jeff, so while I certainly disagree with his opinions, it has nothing to do with my personal history with him. What it has EVERYTHING to do with is the media’s perspective on football at ANY level.
Media outlets continually get it wrong about the mentality and perspective of college and pro athletes. First, off I dare you to find one good high school/college/professional football player that thinks this is cheating. It is a rule as old as time that a player, under penalty of death, should not lose his playbook, game notes, scouting report, and certainly not his wristband. This is football 101. Instead of patronizing DJ and the rest of the world about being “fair,” this should have been used as an opportunity to educate players on personal accountability, “you lost your wrist band, and it was a detriment to your team.” I bet that player never makes that mistake again.
I think some of the outrage comes at the fact that this was a high school game, the level of competition obviously much lower than the NFL. I understand that, I do. But when you coach is a former college/pro athlete (and one of the most competitive, hardest working people I’ve ever met) there is a higher expectation to win, and gaining an advantage anyway you can is practically expected.
In college there are camera’s trained on coaches for opposing team’s signals, in high school players listen in to the huddle of opposing offenses. We need to step down off our self-righteous soap boxes and realize that this is a game; a violent and brutal one at that. It is not for the faint of heart and certainly not for those with easily offended sensibilities.
Coach Hernandez has received a one game suspension. Okay, perhaps there was moral or ethical duty in the eyes of school administrators to do levy some punishment. But in no way is this national news. In no way can this be extrapolated to the so called “decline” of sports in America.
I think we need a splash of the proverbial cold water on our faces right now. Wake up! This is not that big of a deal, and athletes at every level know that.