Idaho State's Derek Graves Shouldn't Be Required to Take This Hit

Kendrick MarshallCorrespondent IOctober 25, 2012

Sep 22, 2012; Lincoln, NE, USA; Idaho State Bengals head coach Mike Kramer walks on to the field prior to the game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium in the first half. Nebraska won 73-7. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-US PRESSWIRE
Bruce Thorson-US PRESSWIRE

Football players are expected to take the big hit.

It is required. It is something they prepare for in the weight room and on the practice field.  The measure of a participant in this gladiator sport is his ability to withstand and perform through the physical abuse on the gridiron. This is how you earn your keep. More importantly, it is how you earn respect.

But should a football player, in a sport that oozes testosterone, be expected to endure verbal and physical abuse when no one is keeping score as in the case of Idaho State wide receiver Derek Graves?

Graves, a senior, filed a complaint against head coach Mike Kramer for pushing him to the ground during a recent practice session.

Kramer, whose team is 1-6, has been suspended by the university for one game for his action.

A video of the Oct. 3 incident shows Kramer running across the practice field and pushing Graves to the ground with a two-handed shove.

Graves, who appeared on national television to tell his story, said Kramer became upset when he allegedly decided to line up against a upperclassmen defensive back.  

Graves has not played since then, citing neck spasms as a result of the incident.

Graves should be applauded for taking a stand against what appears to be a hot-head bully who has a history of abusing players.

In 1995, an Eastern Washington player accused Kramer of slapping him, although no charges were brought against the coach.

While Kramer shouldn’t face criminal charges for shoving Graves, he and all his neanderthal supporters are wrong on so many levels. 

Graves is a student. Kramer, a coach, is a school employee.

The last time I checked, it is frowned upon for school employees to put their hands on students.

ISU reprimanded Kramer for violating university policy for the act.

A professor couldn’t get away with shoving a student in a classroom, especially if that educator wasn't provoked or threatened.

Why is it accepted on a football practice field on school property?

We love to believe just because it’s football and the game is physical, coaches should be allowed to do such things.

What's worse is the faulty belief that the culture of football makes men out youngsters. As if taking a hit or enduring verbal abuse from a wayward coach ensures kids won't end up on the police blotter, a baby daddy or broke. 

Oh, wait that already happens.   

Never mind that coaches have a sordid history of being involved in improprieties themselves. Just ask Bobby Petrino, Jerry Sandusky and Joe Paterno. Petrino was fired for an affair (and lying about it), Sandusky will spend the rest of his life in prison and Paterno died with a tarnished legacy.

I wonder what would have happened if those men hadn't been exposed to football and all the life lessons the game teaches?

It is encouraging to see a college athlete, from a group of young people who fail to get reimbursed for their services and are often exploited by adults at every turn, say enough is enough.

Derek Graves didn't have to push back to prove how much of man he really is.