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July 24, 2022 — Is tabloid media ousting a coach?

Over the last few years, local television news stations have resorted to more and more lurid stories to try to gain ratings during “sweeps” period.

More recently, especially during the pandemic, those local tabloid news outlets have started targeting the U.S. public education system for stories and ratings.

“BREAKING NEWS: Crisis in the Classroom!” scream the headlines as news stories ranging from reports of broken boilers to lead pipes are shown.

More recently, those crisis stories have been focusing on individuals within schools, targeting teachers and their supervisors personally. I saw one station take down an award-winning teacher at a local magnet school for the performing arts, because the teacher was accused of sexual misconduct. A bigger story emerged: the lack of oversight by the school district to do anything about personnel issues of this nature.

This past week, the Sinclair-owned CBS affiliate in Albany, N.Y. put the field hockey coach of Bethlehem (N.Y.) Central under fire for “mental abuse” allegations. The claim, put forth by one parent, is that 40 percent of the parents on the team were against the re-appointment of the coach. That parent, after that, wanted to have the district investigated for a lack of transparency.

The story elicited a response from the school district:

The Bethlehem Central School District retained an independent law firm to conduct a thorough investigation of allegations concerning its field hockey program. The investigation found that there was no violation of the District’s Code of Conduct or the Dignity for all Students Act within the field hockey program. The Board of Education’s July 2022 reappointment of the head field hockey coach was made after the investigation had concluded, and after the parents who had raised concerns were notified in writing of the outcome of the investigation, in June 2022.

Now, I’ve seen a number of situations like this over the last 24 years, where parents have had a beef with the way a coach operates. This has happened with both teams which have been unsuccessful, and also with title-winning teams. Some good coaches — including some with international experience — have been ousted by parents who have influence either in the town or over members of the school district.

More often than not, in my experience, there is very little behind abuse allegations. Indeed, I’d be very skeptical of this TV station because of its ties to Sinclair and other stations under that corporate umbrella which have seemingly been directed to direct investigative power against public schools. Sinclair is the largest corporation owning local television state in the United States, and, as such, has made some unusual demands on them. I invite you to read this story regarding their “must air” policy.

That is, however, no reason to dismiss the allegations at Bethlehem Central. You see, finding sexual liaisons between teachers and students is, frankly, like shooting fish in a barrel. I’ve followed one tracker of such stories over the course of more than two years, and the number of stories of inappropriate relationships averaged more than one per day across America.

Mind you, I’m sure that not every player on a field hockey team looks at the kind of coaching used to get the best out of them as a positive.

But I’ll reserve judgment as to whether actual abuse has occurred and leave it to professionals and not the tabloid media.

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