Category Archives: High School Sports

Lazear & West Virginia

From Sunday, Feb. 18th in the Washinton Post: 

Lazear Signs With West Virginia

Smoothie King Robbery Had Dissuaded Other Schools

Ok.  Good for him.  But, bad for West Virginia. 

West Virginia has always been one of the schools that had the bad fortune of being located in a state that was the butt of jokes dealing with incest, rednecks and overall low IQ’s.  I have often felt the school has gotten a bum rap and  that their engineering and business management programs have never gotten the full recognition they deserve because of the reputation of the State they share a name with.

It has been guilt by association.

Being the quality school that The Univeristy of West Virginia is, I thought they would have avoided Pat.    Having worked hard to separate themselves from the stereotype of West Virginia, I really am surprised.

But I think I get it.  If you are going to viewed like those that people associate you with, why not associate with the best?  Ohio State University with it’s successful Felon Rehab Program ….I’m sorry… Football Team, and many other schools of the like, you can now add West Virginia to the list.  And isn’t that great company to be in.

WVU you have made a mistake.  Pat Lazear hasn’t proven he deserves a chance at college football or a free college education, yet.  The only remorse he has shown is that he got caught and that it has impacted his ability to play football in college. 

If West Virginia wants to sign him, fine.  Maybe their program is strict enough to straighten him out and help him learn what it means to be a productive member of society.  But he shouldn’t get a free ride and take the opportunity of a college education away from another student who played by the rules and avoided hurting others.

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Poor Eren

Ok, this is a really bad title for this blog and to some (namely:  ME), might even be considered in bad taste.  So I apologize.

Now, to the point.

As a person who has written some pretty harsh comments on his blog about the administrators, coaches and teachers of Walt Whitman High School and about a former student/star athlete turned armed robber, I am sure many of the Whitman faithful already have their keyboards and pitchforks all fired up to come after me for writing anything about Eren Civan.  But please read what I have to write before you come after me.

Eren Civan really deserve a better end to his High School Wrestling career.  A 135 -0, 3 time state champion, who was on his way to another undefeated season and 4th state title, deserved better than to be taken out with a knee injury like he suffered. 

I have had the good fortune to see Eren wrestle on a few occasions over the past 3 years.  There really were none better.  Unfortunately, I never got to see him wrestle in a close match.   Everyone was a blow out.  Did he ever have a close match?  I am sure he did, but I just never got to see it.

 To become that good at anything and especially wrestling takes a certain mind set and determination.  I like what Hopkins said in The Washington Post

But in the opinion of Dave Hopkins, in his 30th year as coach at Damascus, Civan could still win it — on one leg.

“I’m surprised he hasn’t suggested doing that,” Hopkins said with a laugh. “He’s an amazing competitor.”

Most of us won’t ever be able to understand or comprehend this type of mental attitude.  Most of us would not want this type of mental attitude about anything.  But for the few who have found a passion for anything that is so strong to drive them to such lengths…..go for it.  We all marvel at it and gain enjoyment from your accomplishments.

So Eren is going on to Columbia University where with luck he will be able to continue his wrestling career after a year or so of rehab on his knee.  But even if doesn’t ever step on a mat again, he has won so much already.

The respect of others, an opportunity to attend an Ivy League School and the knowledge that if he puts his mind and body to something he can achieve it.

As I said, I really hated to hear about Eren’s injury.  You don’t wish something like that on anyone. 

 Good Luck Eren

Poor Pat

So the notorious wheelman of the “Whitman 5” has been sentenced to 10 years in jail with all but 10 days being suspended.  It truly is terrible that he has to serve any time in prison because I can tell you I personally would not want to spend 1 day or even one hour behind bars.

I feel sorry for the poor kid because he is just that.  A kid.  A kid who made a terrible mistake. 

So while many of you might think I have something against Pat Lazear, well, I will try and explain to you as simply as I can, again, “No, I don’t”.

And as for those of you who think I hate Whitman High School,  I will try and explain to you as simply as I can, again, “No, I don’t”.

  • I don’t like parents, teachers, administrators and coaches who don’t do what is right for the child over their own self interests. 
  • I don’t like parents, teachers, administrators and coaches who don’t enforce the rules.
  • I don’t like parents, teachers, administrators and coaches who help to create and foster an environment of entitlement that leads to illegal and despicable acts in and against the community.
  • I dont’ like parents, teachers, administrators and coaches and fans who believe that they are being falsely targeted and picked on when one of their own does something wrong.

If that fits Whitman High School, then maybe I don’t like Whitman but it is for good reason and not just a subjective reason , like “you are not me.”

And let me cut off any any discussion or comparison to what has occurred with Whitman students and the five Damascus students who were recently arrested for going to Clarksburg High to start a fight.

The kids from Damascus were wrong and the administration at Damascus dealt with it swiftly and appropriately.  They were all suspended and not given any special treatment regardless of who they were, what sport they played or any other factor.

How would I have reacted if I  were to hear they had not been?  I would have been on the phone to the principal and been blogging about it the next day.

So let’s all do what we can to prevent another incident like the Smoothie King Armed robbery from occurring again by holding parents, teachers, administrators and coaches accountable for behavior they could have influenced.  And as fans, let’s reconsider what it is that makes someone worthy of our adoration.

“The Whitman 5”: Who is to Blame?

Dear mm and mmm:

I have read the comments you have left on my blog and I appreciate you both taking the time to share these.

Whitman is a very good school with high SATs and preparing students for some of the best colleges in the country.  No question about it.

But Whitman, like any other high school, is not perfect nor will it, or any other high school, ever be.  However, Whitman has some real problems right now that go beyond what is wrong at “most high schools”.

While I realize you two are probably in the majority about your feelings for Pat Lazear and the others and whether they committed the crime or not, the minority has been very vocal  and I and others who publicly condemned or questioned those involved in this situation have been subjected to some of the most vulgar, dim witted, unreasonable and threatening messages from the minority.

Now, you both express concern about my claim that the teachers, coaches and administration should be held accountable for Pat and the other’s actions.  I can understand how you might disagree based upon the type of person Robert Warren is/was and your own descriptions of the others, but if the coaches EVER said anything to them about their behavior and the student didn’t listen, did they EVER take further action?  In other words did Wallich or Wetzel EVER make them miss a game or a match because of their behavior?  Did Magathan or Goodwin EVER step in and use their authority?  I’ll be honest that I don’t know the answer but I have a pretty good idea that it is “NO”.

Look at the incident from this past spring at Duke and the Duke Lacrosse Coach.  Did he have anything  to do directly with the alleged rapes?  No.  But he lost his job anyway because the program he ran was so loosely monitored that the team was allowed to behave in a way that they could be put in a position to be accused of rape and commit other acts which reflected poorly on the team and the University.

I have been involved in dialogue in the past with Coach Wetzel about the demeanor of some of his wrestlers and never once did he ever say they could or should have acted with more respect.  Instead he defended their behavior as being “special athletes” who work hard and “deserve everything they can take”.  I don’t think you have to look much further to see there is a problem brewing.

You both say you knew these five guys.  Did you ever tell them to quit being idiots or did you just laugh at their antics?  Peer pressure can go a long way.  I am sure you know of kids at your school over the years who have broken a rule and gotten caught like drinking under age and not been punished because of some talent they have.   Do you think that is fair?  And if they get away with that or see someone similar to them get away with it, then what makes you or them think they can’t away with something more serious.  Something like, well….I don’t know…maybe….ARMED ROBBERY?

As long everyone just looks the other way and doesn’t ask questions it will continue.

Yes, these guys have been through a lot and to be honest it will only get worse as time goes on.  That comes with notoriety and fame.  If Pat Lazear and the others want all the benefits of being a star or hanging out with a star, then they have to take all the criticism, too.  And the blind “Whitman Faithful” who support them have to learn to live with it, too.  If Pat Lazear had taken Whitman to states I am sure no one would be complaining about an article in the paper talking about what a great athlete he was. 

I am sorry your school has had to take this much heat.  But maybe if you, your friends, and all of your parents would put some pressure on the school to stop this kind of behavior before it reaches this level then maybe people could focus on the good things about Whitman and not just what these five kids did.

Ultimately Pat Lazear and the others are responsible for the choices they made.   Their parents also probably carry some of the blame for not doing something earlier (Remember , there were warning signs in the form of credit card fraud).

But PLEASE do not be so naive to think that the at least one teacher, coach or administrator couldn’t have had some influence on at least one of these kids.  If not directly, then indirectly by the way they responded to negative behavior.

Where Were You When He Was Making His Choices?

I have received several comments as to my posts on Pat Lazear and the “Smoothie King Incident.”  Some printable, most not – all from Whitman “Faithful”.  One in particular that I received was from a young man who identified himself only as a “current whitman student”.  I have written the post below in response to his comment but it really is for everyone.  

current whitman student:

I appreciate your comments regarding this entirely regrettable situation which several of your former classmates/ team mates were involved. It is clear that Robert Warren had a troubled past and even his behavior at Whitman was not exemplary.

I don’t believe anyone is excusing Mr. Warren for his involvement in the Smoothie King robbery or that Pat Lazear had some magical power over Mr. Warren that forced to commit this crime.

But the real point that is being missed by so many people is that Pat Lazear made a choice to be involved with people like Mr. Warren and commit acts like the Smoothie King robbery.  Where were his parents, his coaches or his teachers to steer him clear of this kind of stuff?

Pat Lazear is a gifted athlete with an unlimited potential ahead of him.  He had his choice of colleges to attend, at no cost, and the opportunity to get one of the best educations in the country.  If athletics did not lead to a career after college for him he would have had the opportunity to learn from some of the brightest minds in the world any subject he chose.  And he could have used that knowledge along with the potential public notoriety he would have gained from playing sports in college to work anywhere he wanted.  The golden path lay before him.  He knew it.  His parents knew it.  His coaches knew it.  His teachers knew it.  Even his friends, like you, knew it.

But he was allowed to throw it all away because nobody ever sat him down and told him, “No.”  And why would they?  He was  this great athlete who if allowed to play in that next game, or wrestle that next match would bring glory and honor to his family, his team, his school.  His parents wouldn’t have to pay for college, his coach might win a state championship and get a better spot somewhere else, and people associated with Whitman could walk around saying they knew Pat when he tackled 3 guys by himself.

And no one can say there were no warning signs.  He was convicted of using a stolen credit card only 17 months before the Smoothie King incident.    He served 90 days court supervised probation for it.  This is not some little transgression.  One of the many Whitman “Faithful” who have written to me about Mr. Warren said that he, too, was convicted of using a stolen credit card.  I am assuming they committed that crime together?  Or maybe it is a coincidence.  Either way, if my kid was caught with another kid committing a crime, it is the last time my kid would be seen with that kid.  Especially a kid who has a checkered past like Mr. Warren.

If Mr. Warren’s behavior at wrestling matches was as bad as you say, how could the coaches not steer Pat away from him?  I know that some people believe that too many parents look to the schools to raise their kids.  And I am not advocating this.  What I am saying is that when a teacher or coach has the rare opportunity to have a student athlete like Pat Lazear, they should help him to see right from wrong, help keep bad influences away that might side track him.  Keep him focused on what he needs to do, and not do, to succeed.  Be an example, be a mentor, be an educator.  Don’t just turn the other way when they do something wrong or begin hanging out with the wrong crowd because it might upset your star and you won’t be able to ride the gravy train.  Do what is right for him.

I am glad so many people support Pat.  He is going to need it.  But where was everyone when he was making these choices?

More On, “Are You Really Surprised?”

Since I posted my last Blog “Are You Really Surprised”, I have seen other articles which make some very valid and interesting points regarding Pat Lazear and the preferential treatment of athletes.

 Christine Brennan in The USA Today had an article entitled, Colleges, society flunking prep stars’ inflated sense of self-worth”.  She makes an excellent point when she talks about her attempts to reach the Athletic Directors of Ohio State and Alabama, two of the colleges still recruiting Lazear:

“Had they gotten in touch, I would have asked a simple question, something along these lines: What in the world are you thinking?”

Just as I would want to ask Lazear what he was thinking when he got in the car that night and drove to the Smoothie King.  But unfortunately, I am afraid Lazear doesn’t think – or at least he doesn’t feel he has to think about anything but himself and football.  Not his role in society, not other’s rights, etc.

When asked about the impact this is having on him, did he talk about a life lesson learned, did he apologize for a youthful mistake or even recognize that what he did was wrong?  Instead, as he told The Washington Post about his criminal charges: “If this drags on … it might mess up getting to school and getting started with football.”

He is right about that.  But I think he is missing the point.

But, let me address a comment left by a Michael Goulding in response to my Blog.  He is upset that Robert Warren’s “several prior convictions including possession of firearm, discharge of firearm in an urban area, burglaries and thefts,” but this wasn’t reported in the The Washington Post article, “All-Met Linebacker Said To Be Robbery Ringleader” 

As Mr. Gundling points out, the past history of Mr. Warren would be good to know before passing judgement.

In fairness then, I think I should let you know that Pat Lazear was previously convicted  for the use of a stolen credit card to buy a $130 pair of sneakers in November 2004 — and the ensuing 90 days of court supervision.

From your comments it appears you may not be aware of this.

As Judge Joseph A. Dugan Jr. said at Lazear’s hearing his track record contradicted the depiction of many of the people who testified to his character.

“Ten months later, not only is that all forgotten, but you’re involved in a robbery with a dangerous weapon,” Dugan said while delivering his verdict.

Is that fair enough for you Mr. Goulding?

Actually, let me say this.  The point isn’t really about Pat Lazear or Robert Warren or any individual student.  The point is the administration and coaches at Walt Whitman High School need to be looked at very closely.

I am sorry that your “golden boy” Pat Lazear is in trouble and has possibly ruined his future.  I am sorry that people have , as you call it, “piled on”.  But the truth is there are problems at Walt Whitman and if people like you would stop long enough to notice the bigger picture you might see what I am talking about.  Then maybe you will use your energy and your email skills to attack the real problem.

Dr. Alan S. Goodwin, Principal should resign

David H. Magathan Jr,  Athletic Director should resign.

Eric Wallich, Varsity Football coach should resign.

Andy Wetzel, Asst. Athletic Director/Varsity Wrestling coach and former assistant football coach should resign.

Are You Really Surprised?

“All-Met Linebacker Said To Be Robbery Ringleader” as big as life in The Washington Post.    “All-Met linebacker Pat Lazear played a prominent role in the planning and execution of an armed robbery in March…”

Should we be surprised by this revelation? No.

Entitlement.  That is what is at the root of this.

“Why were they engaged in this type of activity?” Assistant State’s Attorney Tom DeGonia asked the court. “They don’t need the money. They clearly don’t want the notoriety. The state is left with the explanation that these are young men who feel for whatever reason they can get away with this. That’s the most disturbing aspect of this.”

Entitlement.  That’s why. 

Too often he saw other athletes given special treatment, allowed to break rules and not face the consequences. That’s why.

If you are gifted in something that will bring other people success the rules don’t apply to you. You are entitled to special privileges.  That’s why.

But Lazear mistook what that meant or what that entitled him to.

He has/had an outstanding football career waiting for him in college.  He was/is one of the most heavily recruited players in the country and all by big name programs.   He was made to feel “special”.

He was made to feel special not just by the college coaches who wanted him but his own high school coaches and fellow students.  The Washington Post article quotes Robert Warren, one his armed robbery accomplices:

 “To be around this kid made me feel good,” Warren said. “Kids looked up to him like they looked up to me at Kennedy. He was a god. It was ridiculous. I wanted that feeling. People would look up to me because I was friends with him. They were like: ‘You’re friends with Pat? Whoa.’ I think that has a lot to do with all the other kids. That’s kind of sad.”

He’s right.  It is sad.  And even sadder is what lies ahead for him.

In a article from September 8, 2006 in The Washington Post, Lazear is quoted as saying, “I am just trying to put this all behind me.”  Too little, too late.

But is it really his fault?  On one hand it is because we are all responsible for our actions.  But on the other hand, was he only acting by example?

Is anyone looking at his coaches or the administration at Walt Whitman High School?

Another article in The Washington Post in today’s same edition, “8 Schools Used Ineligible Athletes, Officials Say” reports:

 “46 athletes at Einstein, Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Winston Churchill, Quince Orchard, Walter Johnson, Watkins Mill, Wheaton and Walt Whitman were playing on sports teams while not having the minimum 2.0 grade-point average or possibly having more than one failing grade in the previous quarter.”

Walt Whitman High School.  The same school that Lazear and all the others involved in the robbery attended.  The same football team  that Lazear and two of the alleged perpetrators played on.

Is anybody looking at the tie between these types of activities?  Is anyone going back through Walt Whitman High School history to see their record on enforcement of school rules and how it is applied to athletes?   We need to look at the coaches and school administrators who turn a blind eye when a star athlete is caught drinking underage and they don’t suspend them. 

Lazear and every other person in the armed robbery, if found guilty, should be held accountable for their actions.  But we should also look at the root of the problem and see who is setting the example for them.

UPDATE:

Ok, I normally wouldn’t come back and add things like this but it just adds to my point.  Another article today in the The Washington Post, “Vandalism at Prep Stadiums Probed”.

Apparently, following the Whitman v. Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School  game last week, someone, presumably, Whitman fans/students, vandalized the B-CC stadium.  While this appears to be in retaliation for  B-CC students spray-painting at Whitman’s stadium the previous night, the vandalism at B-CC consisted of anti-Semitic messages.

 What is going on at Whitman?  Read the page on “Sportmanship” on the Whitman High School website.  Someone must have forgotten this exists.

Dr. Alan S. Goodwin, Principal should resign

David H. Magathan Jr,  Athletic Director should resign.

Eric Wallich, Varsity Football coach should resign.

Andy Wetzel, Asst. Athletic Director/Varsity Wrestling coach and former assistant football coach should resign.