Coach Mike Reardon still doesn’t understand what all the controversy was about last week concerning his Saguaro football team.
During the season, the Sabercats are not allowed to attend a party in which teenagers are drinking alcohol. If they do, they must serve a one-game suspension.
Some of the Sabercats violated the rule at a Halloween party, so Reardon — in his first year at Saguaro — suspended them for Saguaro’s season finale last Friday against Tempe.
Word spread so quickly among parents that many of them were waiting for Reardon after the Sabercats’ Nov. 3 practice, mere hours after he handed out the suspensions. He met with the parents and explained the reason for the suspensions. Reardon was shocked at some of the parents’ reactions.
Following a heated debate, Reardon backed down some and agreed to allow those players who attended the party but said they didn’t drink back on the team.
Not many actually returned. The Sabercats only had 20 players in uniform as they lost 21-10 to Tempe.
The controversy begs several important questions players, parents, coaches and school administrators should ponder.
First, there is the issue of the rules high school coaches can set for their players. Should they be restricted? Of course. Coaches can’t ask players to adhere to unreasonable codes of conduct. Disallowing players to drink — players who legally can’t consume alcohol — is not unreasonable. Requiring them to stay away from a party where some people are drinking seems extreme but is not unreasonable. Saguaro athletic director Brent Carter said he totally supports the actions of Reardon, who said Wednesday he is staying at Saguaro.
There is the issue of just what players agree to when they get their uniforms. They should know the rules before joining the team. If they don’t agree with the rules, the players have the choice of not joining the team or taking their concerns to school administrators. Coaches, though, should make sure players receive a written copy of the rules and sign a document saying they have read, understand and accept the rules. Reardon said his rules clearly were explained to players before the season.
Once the season in underway, parents have no place in this process. Like their children, they should know the rules and accept the penalties when rules are broken.
This week, it is top-ranked Chaparral — the defending 4A state champion — in the news concerning suspensions. Coach Ron Estabrook handed out four suspensions to players for their playoff game tonight against Arcadia for their actions in last week’s victory over Arcadia in their regular-season finale. Estabrook said the players broke team rules with their conduct.
Coaches of all sports must be able to set rules of conduct to keep their teams under control so they can accomplish what should be their ultimate goal — making better young men and women out of their players.
Yes, we must keep a wary eye on coaches to make sure the rules are reasonable. If the rules are reasonable and are broken, parents must sit back and let coaches do their jobs.