Category Archives: State of Racism

When “Ocho” is a “No No”, Part III

When we last visited the “Ocho Incident”, I was complaining about our league’s Program Director not having a backbone and being more concerned with how this would make him look than how it might effect the player.

I finally received an email back from our Program Director.  He talked it over with our league president who agreed that the other team’s coach using the term Ocho in the way he did was inappropriate.  (We sure have a lot of different Presidents, Commissioners and Directors, don’t we? and no shit that the use was inappropriate!)

So our PD has taken to the Board and it will be on this Thursday night’s agenda where I am sure our PD will only give part of the story and not position this as offensive as it is.   Everyone will be mortified on the outside, relieved on the inside that it wasn’t them, and the coach will get  “spoken to.”  Period. Case Closed.

So how do I feel about this?

I am not very happy because I think overall this was not treated with the seriousness it should have been nor will it be treated by Board with the seriousness it should be.   

I am glad that I did not back down in terms of pushing to get this discussed and in the end maybe someone will realize that this is wrong.  It may not change what people think but it will hopefully change how they act.

Check back here to see if anything comes out of Thursday’s meeting.

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Does the “N” Word have an Equivalent?, Part I

If you are a regular of my Blog, then you will recall a few posts I have had under the title “When “Ocho” is a “No No”  If you haven’t read them  – go do it now. 

Interestingly enough I actually started this post BEFORE the whole “Ocho Incident”.  This has just taken some time for me to complete because it is such a sensitive subject I have wanted to be clear on my message and get it right.  What I have found is there may be no “right” on this topic. 

I decided to put this out there, unfinished, and solicit thoughts, comments form you…..

I had a an interesting conversation via Instant Messenger the other night with my 18 year old daughter.  She is a freshman at a large university in the south and while she certainly hasn’t lived a sheltered life, she has been surprised at some of the “experiences” she has had there already.

I am not referring to drinking or the parties or even the way people act at SEC football games although the latter was eye opening for her and the former, I hope, was not something she has gotten *too* involved in.

No, I am talking about people’s attitudes toward race. 

The town we live in – the same town she grew up in –  is not very diverse even though we live within commuting distance of two moderate sized metropolitan cities.  Even so, I believe my kids have had many experiences with people who do not look like them or do not talk like them or who believe differently than they do so as not to see people’s differences as a bad thing.  Instead, I believe my wife and I have raised them to understand that these differences between people,  be it color, religion, Coke drinker v. Pepsi drinker, or whatever, are what make us all interesting and worth getting to know.  While my children are certainly not “color blind” they do not let a difference like that stop them from being humans.

But, sadly, this is not the case where my daughter goes to school.  There are still people who openly use the “N” word.  Inter-racial dating is heavily frowned upon. Minorities even practice “segregation by choice.”  Again, my daughter is no more naive than any young adult (her college room mate is black and one her best friends and prom date this year is black) but given her attitudes toward race it is shocking to her to see these things are practiced so openly.

As my IM session with my daughter continued I started asking her questions about her room mate.  A young girl from a small town in the south who was randomly put together with my daughter. All we knew about her when we took our daughter to school, was her name, where she was from, that she was salutatorian of her high school class, planning to major in chemistry and that she was black (our daughter had found a picture of her on the Internet.)

Since my daughter had mentioned how shocked she was that people used the “N” word so commonly, I asked her if she had considered asking her room mate what she thought of the word. We have all heard one black person call another this word but in reality how do black people really feel about the word?  What does it mean to a black person? And, how is it different if a non-black uses it in the same way as a black person does?

This led to my then suggesting she ask her what slang for white people do black people consider to be truly offensive in the same way that white people view the “N” word?  As I thought about what it might be (honky, cracker, red neck, whitey, bubba, ice mutant, casper) nothing really came to mind that really equaled the offensiveness of the “N” word.

So why is this? 

When “Ocho” Is A “No No”, Part II

UNFUCKINGBELIEVABLE.  That is the only way I can describe what has transpired in the past week around this.

For those who did not read “When “Ocho” Is A “No No”, and are too lazy to go back and read it, briefly here is what happened.  My son’s football team has a phenomenal football player who wears #8 and is Hispanic.  A coach on the opposing team at my son’s game last week had put in a defensive play/formation, which they called “Ocho”.  There were several cheap and late hits taken by our #8 during the game from players of the other team.  I raised my concerns that the opposing coaches choice of using “ocho” as key word sent the wrong message to the kids on thier team which led to their “unsportsmanlike” play.  When we left off I had anticipated that the Commissioner of the League would be contacted by now….

Our coach did talk with our #8 to get his perception on the other team using the term “ocho” to indicate a play clearly aimed at stopping him.  He said yes, he noticed it  and that his family noticed it too.  While it upset him and his family, they were not going to make a Federal case of it.  I told you this kid is a class act.

Our coach then told the Program Director of our league who said he would bring it up to the Commissioner of the League at the next meeting which was scheduled for this past Thursday.

On Friday evening I heard from our coach that our PD had not brought it up at the meeting.  I couldn’t believe it.  (Actually I could, as our PD has shown he has no backbone on previous issues and is more interested in being part of the “Boy’s Club” than doing his job the right way.)

I decided it was appropriate for me, as a parent, to go directly to the League Commissioner and make him aware of what had taken place in the game.  Unfortunately, the only number listed for the Commissioner was his work number and it being Saturday I was only able to reach his voice mail.  I left him a brief message, not mentioning anything about the “ocho incident” as I now refer to it but just saying I was parent of a player who had concerns regarding some things that took place at my son’s game last week and would appreciate it if he would call me.

Following this I felt it only fair to contact our PD so as to give him a head’s up that I had reached out to the Commissioner and that I intended to pursue this issue directly.  When I did this he said that the meeting had run long on Thursday and that he had not had a chance to bring it up.   Spineless.

I told him that I was disturbed that he had not felt it important enough to make sure it was raised regardless of how many other things were on the agenda.  

You will not beleivehow he responded!  All I can say is that our PD is a self centered and ignorant individual.  He was/is more concerned about how my going to the League Commissioner will make him look than whether a coach used a racial term aimed at one of our kids.

He was offended that I had gone to the League Commissioner and felt I had not shown him, as the PD, the proper respect by waiting.

I have two things to say. 

1) “Waiting for what?  The coach to do it again? Waiting for you to get around to it?  If you have some great insight as to the way this should be brought up you need to let me in on it.  You didn’t follow through on how you said you would first bring it up nor did you communicate back that you wanted to handle it in a differnet way.  And your offended?

2) You’re offended?  I am offended that you did not act on this issue quickly.   It has shown a lack of respect for one of our players, his family and any other person who was at the game as well as any other person or team who might face this opposing coach in the future and face similar treatment – both verbal and physical.

It has been over 24 hours and he has not responded.

And you know what is most amazing to me?  I am so mad about this and concerned that one of our league’s Directors isn’t taking a charge of racism more seriously that I am about to quit because I don’t want to be affiliated with it. 

 Something is seriously wrong with our society.

Stay tuned for When “Ocho” is a “No No”, Part III.

UNFUCKINGBELIEVABLE. 

When “Ocho” Is A “No No”

There are a lot of “circumstances” that can affect one’s judgment.  A bad day at work, an overtly competitive streak or a great success that makes you feel invincible to name just a few.  It is how you temper your feelings and not let them cloud your better judgement that are the mark of true winner.

 

By now most people have heard about and even seen the video of the Pop Warner football coach in Stockton, California who ran onto the field in the middle of a game and leveled the 13 year old player from another team.  I would never try to make excuses for the coach or his behavior but I would like to know more of the circumstances surrounding the incident.  Was it late in the game and had the other team built a substantial lead? Had this player been delivering hits after the whistle throughout the game and this coach had had enough?

Again, nothing that I can think of would ever condone the behavior of the coach.

I have coached youth sports for the past 8 years and I have seen some unbelievable things pulled by coaches and parents all in the name of “competition”.  Often, it has been a case of emotional bad judgment on their part (but do the same thing to them and you might consider having someone else start your car for you).  This past weekend during my son’s football game I witnessed one of the most remarkable acts of bad judgment that I have ever seen.

Football where we live is a critical piece of the community fabric.   Towns take terrific pride in the success of not just their high school team but also their youth teams.  While it is unspoken, failure is NOT an option.  Yes, there have been youth coaches who have had losing seasons but the next year they either aren’t coaching or the number of players signing up for their team is far fewer.

My son’s team is in a 10 – 12 year old league with each team being allowed a few lighter 13 year olds and he plays other teams from the central part of our state.  I am one of the assistant’s on his team responsible for our Defense.  We are very fortunate to have a player who is, well, phenomenal.  His athletic ability and football instincts are beyond compare.  On top of it all he is one of the most respectful and hard working kids on the team.  He always answers with a “yes, sir” to the coaches, is the first to congratulate a teammate for excellent play and also the first to get in a teammates face when they are not playing up to their potential.  A true leader.

All of the coaches, players and parents on our team just love to watch him run with the ball.  Even referees have commented on how much they enjoy our games because they know they are in for a show.   They know he is that good.  Unfortunately, so do the other coaches in the league.  So much so, that now their defenses, and their offenses for that matter, are built around stopping him.

The team we played this past weekend had clearly scouted our games and thought they were prepared to stop him. He scored 3 touchdowns all within the first half.  However, in their attempt to build a defense that would shut him down, they came up with a formation or stunt or play on defense called “Ocho”.   I heard their coaches yell it several times during the game from the sideline.

 

Did I mention he wears # 8?  So “Ocho”, the Spanish word for 8, might seem to be a clever way to call out a play designed to stop a player who wears # 8.  However, not only does he wear # 8 but he is Hispanic. Maybe it is a coincidence, but given that they had clearly scouted our team, there was no way that at some point they hadn’t realized he was Hispanic. 

I had picked up on the “Ocho” thing during the game but didn’t say anything as I don’t know these other coaches and didn’t really have any evidence that there was any racial intention behind it.  It was after the game when I happened to be approached by one of their coaches in the parking lot I felt my suspicions had some validity.  He was first accusatory about our even having someone as good as #8 on our team.  He then began making excuses as to why their team lost this year – best player has a broken leg and so on and so on –  and made sure to remind me that they had beat us 20 – 0 last year. (We beat them 28 – 0 this year…HA!).   But what really set off the red flags in my mind was when he tried to describe who their best player from the year before was.  I  described the kid as being “small, fast and wearing #37”. He said yep, and then a made a point to add, “the black kid”. “Wow, ” was all I could think, “Did he really just say that?” 

The other odd thing about our conversation is he was trying to say all these things in a way that might appear he was being complimentary of # 8 and our team.  But it was obvious he was not.  It was obvious he was frustrated and angry.

In addition to this conversation, I had seen during the game that their players were not only keying on # 8 but they were taking, what I consider, some cheap shots. Holding him on defense, an extra push or block in the back after the play and once even poking fingers into his eyes after they had him down on the ground after a tackle.

Did their coaches tell them to do these things?  No.  Did their coaches possibly create a hostile environment by keying so much on #8 and throwing a racial slant to the whole thing with their use of the term “Ocho” that their players were so fired up to do “whatever it takes” to stop him?  I think so.

Our head coach plans to speak with # 8 tonight at practice to see if he picked up on the “Ocho” and if it bothered him or his family.   Maybe some of us are being too sensitive but the truth is it happened.

We plan to go to the Commissioner of the league with our concern but since he is affiliated with the league this other team is from, I am not sure what will actually happen. 

The bottom line is that regardless of the type of week you have had or however competitive you are, you need to use good judgment – especially if you are in position of influence with kids.

Stay tuned to this one.  I will be sure to let you know what the Commissioner says……

Click here to go to When “Ocho” is a “No-No”, Part II