Doing the Right Thing Backfires for Two Portland High School Coaches

Steven ResnickSenior Writer IOctober 30, 2009

When you're a coach of a team, regardless of what sport, one of the most important things to impart on an athlete is the sense of being disciplined and when you mess up, take accountability for your actions.

I think what's important is to define accountability:that is regardless of what actions you take, to take responsibility for your actions, and not to place blame on someone else or use an excuse.

Being accountable doesn't necessarily mean it has to be in a negative context, either. I would believe that if you do something well and you're recognized for it, then take responsibility for what you have done to get to that success.

Well, in an article I ran across on which is a news website for the Portland, Oregon area, there was an article titled "Lincoln High Cheerleading Coaches Resign Over Code of Conduct." It was written by Eric Adams and Anne Yeager. Here's a link to the article .

The story is about high school cheerleading and to me that is one of the best times to teach athletes about taking accountablity when you mess up, or as mentioned before, if you do something well. 

Essentially, what happened is a student was demoted from varsity cheerleading to junior varsity cheerleading by the coaches at Lincoln High School for violating the Portland Public School's Code of Conduct.

In most cases, this would have been the end of the story, but not according to the article. The principal of Lincoln High School went over the coaches' heads and reinstated the student back to varsity.

Upon hearing of the news, both coaches resigned from coaching at Lincoln High School and even the parents of the students who were cheerleaders approved of the resignation.

Now why was the student reinstated? Looking deeper into the article, you find that she claims the demotion was racially-motivated, so the principal stated a "zero tolerance for harassment or discrimination."

So, basically the reason why the cheerleader wasn't demoted was based on the claim of the demotion being racially motivated. Of course, this is a news story and it doesn't have all the facts.

What the story omits is the fact that cheerleader is African-American and that also on the team are three other African-American cheerleaders as well as other cheerleaders of different races.

Now, I would have had a different reaction if the other students had come to the principal and stated that the coaches did have a racial bias, but none of the students did because you find out later in the story that since the coaches resigned, the entire team quit.

Yes, you heard me the whole team quit. Now, that's saying something and it's a testament to those cheerleaders for standing up for themselves and they weren't going to take the prinicipal meddling.

Apparently, this cheerleader who got in trouble also had an attitude problem, as well according to the article.

So, what amazes me about the story is the fact that one student can take down a team because that's basically what she did. The two coaches quit, and the cheerleading team quit after hearing of the principal's decision.

Now, my question is what does that say to the students at Lincoln High School? That if you're facing punishment, just play the race card and the decision of the coach will not stand?

Aren't the coaches supposed to have the ability to discipline their players if they do something against the rules? It wasn't like the coaches kicked this cheerleader off the team, they demoted her based on breaking a specific violation, which was not mentioned in the article combined with her attitude problem.

I find the principal's actions reprehensible, because basically what this principal did was take away any coaches of the school's power to discipline their players. This is why my belief is that the principal at Lincoln High should be fired immediately.

This was a time for a cheerleader either to realize her mistakes and change her attitude or continue down that destructive path and place blame on everyone else but herself for her actions, but that won't happen because the principal allowed her to "cry wolf."

It's just a very sad set of circumstances, because in the end, it affected not only the two coaches, it also effected the participation of the rest of the cheerleaders, not to mention the parents getting involved in the situation as well.