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A (Belated) Gift for Dad

John Rowland

Posted on June 11, 2018 12:06

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If you give someone a present 40 years later, does it still count? Since family honor can be betrayed, this Father's Day 2018, family loyalty is my gift. Father . . . This one was, and is, for you.

Like most others, our public high school football team in Bakersfield, CA, in 1977-78 had game programs for the spectators which listed such details as the players' names, numbers/positions played, etc.

My own player listing had some issue about it; a typo in the name, the wrong number or no number next to the name, some such situation. I don't remember what.

But Father picked up on it and was determined to get it fixed.

What would most parents do? Gently approach the coach? The athletic director? Maybe just let it go.

Omitting to tell me of his plan, my father wrote a hard-copy letter to the coaching staff informing them of the error, requesting them to fix it . . . which they did.

And then there was the fallout.

My first hint that something had occurred came when an absolute gentleman of a man on the school's faculty named Tucker approached me after a football game, saying, "We corrected your name in the program." Entirely clueless as to what he was talking about, feeling like a deer caught in the headlights, I just said, "Oh, ok."

Some nice faculty member is one thing; the head coach was another.

Typically, high school coaches have the near-power of God in terms of such things as the making or breaking of a potential recruit's chances for athletic scholarships at any given college. They can steer any college interested in player X decidedly away from player X -- supposing the coach has some beef against X.

All this meaning, coaches really don't like being told what to do or how badly they screwed up, which is what Coach thought had been done with the letter; instead, they're accustomed to being wined and dined, sucked up to by all means.

So one day at practice, Coach's revenge and pay-back was at hand.

On offense, I was a back-up wide receiver, literally never getting any pass reps in practice. This day was to be different; I was the target. During practice, Coach chose to throw the ball my way, maybe 6-7 times . . . consecutively. I caught a few, made one circus catch; but also dropped a couple.

After practice, Coach seized on the drops. It was time for the kill.

"Noticed you didn't pull in a couple of those passes out there," said Coach as he walked up beside me. "Are you having any problems at home?"

Coach continued to grind on this creepy home/family theme, looking for any opening, hoping to hear any scintilla of domestic dirt which he could promptly carry to CPS or any other social-service goon squad . . . to basically rat out and bust Dad.

While some kids might have taken the "friendly" bait or themselves become rats, I told Coach nothing; gave him no possible cause of action -- saying all is perfectly well at home, to call off the dogs.

To this very day, I have never mentioned any of this to Father.

Happy Father's Day.

John Rowland

Posted on June 11, 2018 12:06

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Source: WANE

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Nearly 200 high school football players from around northeast Indiana converged on The Ash Center...

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