Perhaps that is one of the reasons why last Friday night’s brawl between coaching staffs at Walker and Cullman high schools has resonated so strongly across the state.
The fight’s shock value is bad enough — particularly in the Internet age when photographs and videos are instantly published for the world to see. Images of a bloodied Cullman assistant coach Matt Hopper are merely one Google search away.
But the bigger picture — of sportsmanship in Alabama schools — is the real loser in this unsightly incident.
It’s bad enough that the Cullman-Walker incident has received more than its 15 minutes of fame here at home. But that coverage has spread overseas to at least one British newspaper, the Daily Mail of London, whose story of the brawl carried photos and online videos of the aftermath along with this headline: “Not a good example! Police investigate brawl on high school football field between two COACHES that left one nursing a bloodied face.”
The newspaper quoted Kaylor Hodges, a student at Walker High School, as saying, “It’s awfully sad. I’m in the Walker band, and I’m quite ashamed of the entire deal.”
That’s not the image Alabama’s schools need spread around the globe.
Appropriate punishment for the coaches involved is under way; Walker head coach John Holladay, seen on video swinging at Hopper, has been suspended by school officials there. Other punishments may follow.
Our bigger concern is that Alabama’s young people — those who make high school football so enjoyable — see this for what it is: a rare act of macho aggression that is not acceptable, either as teenagers or adults.
Football’s life lessons should be about overcoming adversity, the satisfaction of hard work and the necessity of teamwork. Behavior that demonstrates violence and anger has no place around the state’s next generation of adults.