OUR VIEW: While the adults argued, the kids just played

Published 4:16 pm Thursday, October 27, 2022

Understandably, there’s been a lot of talk around the community regarding the Long Cane Middle School football team. Coach Dustin Ward was relieved of his coaching duties this past week after a social media video showed LCMS football players celebrating with a baseball bat in a locker room at Callaway Stadium.

The players were chanting “family” every time the bat hit the table.  

Making matters worse, the letter reprimanding Ward was accidentally released by LCMS, making a discussion that might’ve been public anyway even more public. 

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Throughout the week, Ward’s punishment has been discussed in various public forums around Troup County. A Troup County Parks and Recreation meeting on Monday went from a normally quiet meeting to one with almost every seat filled at a large room at the Mike Daniel Recreation Center.

The LaGrange City Council work session even ended up getting into the discussion, as Councilman Nathan Gaskin suggested tabling votes on two upcoming projects unless Ward was allowed to coach in Wednesday night’s game. (At the actual meeting, Gaskin voted no on both measures but they both passed.)

It was clearly not the majority opinion, but there were people posting on social media trying to get the team to boycott the game unless Ward was allowed to coach.  Everyone had an opinion on this situation.

And then they kicked the ball off Wednesday night and all of that talk went out the window. While the adults talked and argued, the kids just played. 

A team of 12 and 13-year-olds strapped on their shoulder pads, laced up their cleats and they took the field against a good Cowan Road Middle team. It was a game between two really good teams, both entering the game with only one loss. LCMS lost, but it was a great game.

At the end, as passionate people typically do, the LCMS had a lot of emotion. Any time you lose, there’s some emotion, but imagine being a pre-teen or very young teenager and having to deal with all that’s gone on off the field this week.  

Somewhere in the middle of all of this controversy, it feels like many lost focus on what the game was truly about — the student athletes. While we understand why the video and discipline of Ward has created so much discussion, our student-athletes lose when an issue becomes politicized to the point this one was. There’s a time and place for all of us to continue a discussion on the video and on how this has all been handled from all sides.

But today we think it’s important to applaud the LCMS team, which had a tremendous season and nearly pulled off an impressive comeback on Wednesday. We’re sure there’s a lot the team doesn’t understand about how this past week transpired, but working together to overcome adversity will serve them well as they grow into adults and become our future leaders.