Florida is a football state. We have really strong and competitive football programs at both the college and high school level through the State of Florida. Football is a very physically demanding and tough sport. At the high school and college level, the head coach is called upon to lead a football program to victory. Often times, a head coach, whether on his own or by pressure of parents or school administrators, takes the concept of training, practice, games, and discipline too far. Some may say that it is the job of the coach to make the players tough and to help the players protect themselves in the game. Others argue that the role of a high school coach is to serve as role model to young men and not to abuse, hit, or harm the child.
The football coach in charge of the program at South Walton High School was recently arrested and charged with the crimes of child abuse. It was reported that James Barron struck a player in the throat twice and also taught his players a maneuver called the throat thrust to be used in games against opponents. In my opinion, striking a child at football practice or anywhere else is unacceptable and should subject the coach to consequences for his actions. It is also disturbing to read that a coach is teaching high school players how to harm opposing players in a game with this move called the throat thrust. A google search of the term “throat thrust” pointed me to one site that defined several professional wrestling moves. Of course, the exact nature of what was being done to and taught to the players should become more clear through the criminal investigation.
Coach Barron will be entitled to defend himself against the criminal charges through a Florida criminal defense attorney or the services of the public defender. There sometimes is a fine line between a competitive coach and an abusive one. You can read more about this story at South Walton High School Football Coach Charged with Child Abuse.
There are probably many incidents of abusive coaching in Florida high schools that never get reported or investigated. In this case, there apparently are other players who witnessed the incidents and have stepped forward to provide statements to investigating officers. It cannot be easy for a player to give a statement as to the actions or inactions of a coach or other school official.
High school football is important to the community and players. Some (not many) players have an opportunity to get a football scholarship for competitive play; however, the opportunity for scholarship should not take precedence over all other concerns like the safety and welfare of the player. Winning at all costs, abusing players, and harming the opponent have no place in Florida high school sports.