By now, most of you are probably aware that I’ve moved on from the Beacon and Courier-News. It’s nothing more than a case of it was time for a change and I’ll always appreciate those folks for giving me my big break. The really sad thing is the Sun-Times is strangling those satellite newspapers and it’s frustrating to have to watch them fade away.
As we speak, I’m looking forward to some new challenges including the radio show.
This column was set to run in the Courier-News before the divorce and ironically, if more newspapers did with the Huntley High School voice just did, I think the print media would be far better off. Enjoy!
What the heck has gotten into the water in Huntley?
It’s not that high school Facebook affrontery is anything new because it isn’t. If you ask me, social media is sending this society down to that least common denominator level even faster than “Two and a Half Men.” It’s just that, whenever those west of Elgin folks embrace questionable behavior, they tend to go all in.
And the evidence for this collective uncouth hysteria goes back to my fascinating youth soccer coaching days.
But before we continue, please let me stipulate that youth soccer parents, as a whole, are fricken’ nuts. They’re far worse than those of any other sport. Campton United parents got so bad that club had to start forcing them to watch a video outlining appropriate sideline behavior.
While there’s certainly some wonderful exceptions, I’ve never had to deal with a more entitled, self-centered and delusional group. And that’s really saying something when you consider I deal with politicians on a regular basis.
Despite the fact that it takes a special breed rise above that general level of insanity, Huntley parents managed to do just that.
Everything was fine as long as they were winning, but when the tide turned, their mothers – yes mothers – started threatening our parents. Quite frankly, I wanted to threaten ‘em too, but having to pull an irate soccer mom off of an unsuspecting father wasn’t in my job description.
And that bizarre attitude filtered right down to their kids. In the only case of a referee ever admitting anything like this, one told me we got a questionable goal call because the Huntley players were “incredibly disrespectful.”
Whenever they lost, they refused to offer the traditional postgame procession high fives and when I said something about poor sportsmanship, their coach came after me to the point the referee to intervene.
It got so bad, the fourth time we played them, in an unprecedented move, I asked the Sheriff and the McHenry County College Police to attend. And they quickly agreed because they said those parents had caused problems during the course of a previous game.
I know you shouldn’t paint an entire city with a single soccer club paint brush, but it wasn’t just them. Whenever I mentioned Huntley to any another coach they immediately turned a whiter shade of pale.
So the sad thing is, when the Courier-News reported the L.I.T.H./Huntley Memes Facebook page, which consisted of 20 to25 images of District 158 students complete with captions disparaging their weight and ethnicity, I wasn’t the least bit surprised.
Ethnicity? Really? Why was my first thought, “This could only happen in Huntley,” and the second had something to do with you might be a redneck jokes.
But perhaps there’s hope for Huntley yet!
When Michael Geherren, digital editor in chief of the Huntley High School Voice, and his staff discovered the scurrilous page, in that proud press tradition, they issued a scathing editorial denouncing cyber bullying and bigotry for what it is. Then they appealed to students to report the perpetrators to the district’s anonymous tip line.
And it worked!
Armed with the appropriate information, D158 administrators, teachers and counselors sprang into action and the offending Facebook page was deleted. They even managed to dispense with a copycat endeavor that sprang up a few days later.
If only I could get results like that! But the truth is, I can’t even get State Sen. Mike Noland to behave.
“The whole system worked all the way around,” Superintendent Terry Awrey said, “And I give Michael a lot of credit for having the courage to stand up for his fellow students.”
So do I! At a time when the practice of journalism is, to politely put it, “in flux,” the entire staff of The Voice risked their highly coveted high school reputations to stand firm on a principle that ain’t too popular with many adults.
There’s more than one northern Illinois newspaper that could learn a thing or two from these kids.
Though I’m sure the bad feelings will linger – you can’t un-ring a bell – I have to say The Voice did the next best thing. You’ll never get rid of the idiots, but you can make them fear you.
Albert Einstein put it perfectly, “The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”
Now if only I could get them to take on soccer clubs.