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“You’ve got to teach that guy how to be taught by a man.”

August 9, 2010

Among many other comments at the MAC media preview just over a week ago, Ron English said:

“We wanted guys that had a father in their background,” English said. “A guy that’s raised by his mom all the time, and please don’t take me wrong, but the reality is that you’ve got to teach that guy how to be taught by a man.”

Columnist Mick McCabe at the Detroit Free Press zeroed in on this statement and seems to have ignited a firestorm of fury over the past couple days. I’ve read and heard comments suggesting that if English were white, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton would be all over this, suggesting that he’s unfairly penalizing poor black children for something that was not their fault, and so on.

I had initially written a lengthy explanation of why I didn’t think this was a problem, but the more I think about it, and the more I read about it, it is a problem. We can argue about whether the comment was racist, we can argue about whether it was insulting to single mothers, and we can argue about whether there is any truth to the statement, but in the end, the simple fact that we’re arguing about it makes it a problem. Given the recruiting challenges facing Eastern Michigan, which we’ve previously detailed, Ron English doesn’t need any additional problems of his own making, but he has one here.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Aaron permalink
    August 9, 2010 11:56 am

    i couldn’t agree more. it was a needless thing to say.

    it’s not the most offensive thing ever uttered, but it’s something that can be used against him by other CFB coaches, HS coaches and recruits.

  2. August 9, 2010 12:23 pm

    You’re right about one thing

    This is mainly a problem because we’re arguing about it. Anyone who is not looking to be offended and does not let someone talk them into it really should be able to see where Coach English is coming from:

    1) Fact: Kid’s raised in single family households (White and Black) tend to struggle in various areas

    * More sexually active at a young age (Carol W. Metzler, et al. “The Social Context for Risky Sexual Behavior Among Adolescents,” Journal of Behavioral Medicine 17 (1994).)

    * More Likely to be substance abusers (CU.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics, Survey on Child Health, Washington, DC, 1993.)

    * Higher risk of suicide (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics, Survey on Child Health, Washington, DC, 1993.)

    * More likely to have emotional and mental problems (Jack Block, et al. “Parental Functioning and the Home Environment in Families of Divorce,” Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 27 (1988))

    * More physically aggressive (N. Vaden-Kierman, N. Ialongo, J. Pearson, and S. Kellam, “Household Family Structure and Children’s Aggressive Behavior: A Longitudinal Study of Urban Elementary School Children,” Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 23, no. 5 (1995).)

    I am of the mind that Fathers and Mothers balance out each others natural extremes (I would push my kids far harder to try physically difficult things than my wife would and she is far more likely to coddle and talk them through it). Sometimes I am right, sometimes she is right tougher we are right far more than either would be alone.

    Coach English’s problem was that he took general truths and spoke of them in an individual manner. He made it sound like these things are guarantees, when they are not. It would have been best for him to (a) not touch it with a 10 foot pole or (b) Talk about how it’s one of the roles (surrogate father) that he takes very seriously for those kids from single house holds.

    • August 9, 2010 1:04 pm

      “It would have been best for him to (a) not touch it with a 10 foot pole or (b) Talk about how it’s one of the roles (surrogate father) that he takes very seriously for those kids from single house holds.”

      Or to mention that one of the key factors they’re looking at in evaluating prospects is how receptive the kid is to coaching. Because that’s what it seems like he was really getting at.

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