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Fear of retribution appears to foster an unhealthy environment within the Venice High School sports programs
By Francesco Abbruzzino, The Scoop News
I am starting to think there is a problem with some or all of the Venice High School sports programs, in the schools drive to secure state victories on the field and court. I say that because I have received a few more emails, since I put out the article covering an incident at Cardinal Mooney and then some other concerns with the VHS coach on separate occasions. That article is below:
Since then a few more parents, students and players have communicated with me regarding similar treatment taking place on a variety of teams at VHS.
One parent that was at the Cardinal Mooney game, said he/she did not witness any hands-on issues by the VHS coach. However, the parent did see the VHS boys basketball coach exhibit “unprofessional and inappropriate” behavior and the parent’s opinion the he should not be coaching because the coach is foul mouthed and high strung, in this particular parent’ opinion.
Unfortunately, the communications to me shared one common theme, that this is a problem with a couple of the teams and their coaching staff, revolving around their treatment of the players. Many referred to some of the coaches as bullies, which may or may not be accurate, depending on an individual’s definition of bully. They all basically said that the majority of the coaching staff on a variety of teams can be foul mouthed and their treatment of the players inappropriate and borderline abusive.
One coach that I received a few communications on is the girls’ basketball coach. To paraphrase one individual, he is a known bully and the school refuses to act. My understanding from talking to players is that they completed a survey and several of them broke down a lot of concerns they have with the coach, yet their perception is that the school did nothing and will not take any action. I must note that in the public eye, the school is taking no action and we do not know if that is accurate. The VHS Administration could have taken action on any complaint against the coaches in private. I would ask the school for comment, but I have found that the School Board Administration has been less than forthright or helpful on issues like this, which is a whole other story.
Other coaches that were mentioned with similar concerns were the girls golf coach, football, and obviously the boy’s basketball coach.
The overwhelming school of thought is that nobody at VHS ever wants to really look out of fear of what they may see. As one parent stated regarding these coaches, the treatment exerted towards the players is “shameful and disheartening”.
One thing that sticks out to me is the fact that everyone of these individuals feared that their name would get out and retribution would be sought against them. They all pushed the need for anonymity, due to concerns that the coach may seek retribution. This atmosphere has created an environment that opens the door for the very actions that the parents, players and students have written me about over the past couple of days, regarding some of the coaches.
So, it would not surprise me to find out that the VHS Administrators are not aware of the issues that I am writing about today or the other day. However, from what I have heard, they would have to be oblivious not to be aware of the issues.
Unfortunately, their ignorance about the treatment of certain coaches to their players or the turning of a blind eye, has created an unhealthy environment for the kids that are involved in these programs. I just hope they are not turning a blind eye to the problem because winning is more important than the kid’s well being. What I do know is that there is a problem, which is due to an environment that has created a fear of retribution.
I wanted to note that I have heard from a few individuals, that the coaches mentioned above are good people. I myself am a good person, in public and I am sure these coaches are too. However, I have a strong Type-A personality and on occasion I can be a bit foul mouthed. With that in mind, I don’t think I would be a good coach. It does not mean that myself or these coaches above (if the allegations are accurate) are bad people, it just makes us a bad fit for coaching our youth. Just some food for thought.