Calling All Daddy’s Girls: A Timely Sports Opinion

Calling All Daddy’s Girls: A Timely Sports Opinion

Here's your chance to shine at the dinner table over a topic that'll still hold your dad's attention!

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As Florida Gator football fans that bleed orange and blue, Urban Myer has been a sort of legend in my household. Although they weren't back-to-back, Meyer still led the Florida Gators to two National Championships during my childhood – he became more of a hero to me than my dad (sorry, dad). Even my middle school hand-me-down iPhone lit up to an inspirational Urban Meyer quote, one that I look at now and wonder what I could've ever been thinking. When he retired from the game for health and family reasons, my heart was crushed, and tears rolled down my face – would this be the end of Florida football as I knew it? So far, yes. I was even more devastated to learn that Urban Meyer decided to unretire and lead the Ohio State Buckeyes. At 14-years-old, still passionately wearing my orange and blue cheerleading uniform, I wanted to know, how could Meyer be such a traitor?

Little did I know, just a few years later, I would be asking the same question and many more that further involved Meyer's slimy personality.

The story begins as many of you might imagine: It was my first night home from a long summer, and my dad's first dinner table topic of conversation was, yep! You guessed it! Urban Meyer. More involved in passing my classes than following the latest coaching scandals, I had no idea that such a thing was of any interest to the rest of American dad's out there. I blew the conversation off, practically not listening to my dad (again, sorry, dad). Meyer's name began to repeat at the dinner table, getting both of my parents more heated with each mention of his name. After a few nights and a few sightings in the newspaper, I figured it was finally time to get involved and learn why my dad was going on and on. He hadn't talked this much in practically a year!

For those of you who don't know, Urban Meyer was recently put on administrative leave from Ohio State University, where he served as the head coach for the Buckeyes football team. In the beginning, little was known about Meyer's situation. Some claimed that Urban Meyer's leave was Ohio State University, OSU, being "too proactive" as it happened at the heels of the recent news release on the sexual abuse scandal that occurred on the gymnastics and wrestling teams at OSU. All my dad thought was that Urban Meyer had maybe known about one of his assistant coaches physically hurting his wife many years ago – how could this lead to one of the greatest coaches, a shoe-in hall-of-famer, to administrative leave? There had to be more to the story, and yes there was – a horrifying load of truth that seemed to be hidden behind all of the signed footballs, trophies, and millions of dollars.

Ladies here are some reasons that can help your dad see you as the credible college girl you are in this Urban Meyer debate:

1. Meyer is a LIAR.

After taking Zach Smith, a then intern, under his wing at UF, Meyer has stood beside him and even brought Smith to work under him at OSU. At Big Ten Media Days 2018 – a day where the top men in college football come out to let the media in on the upcoming season's greatest predictions – Meyer lied straight to press. Meyer quickly announced that he was aware of the abuse that occurred in 2009 but had no knowledge of the reoccurrence in 2015. The information Meyer reported was inaccurate and impersonal. Quoting Meyers, he seems to work solely by what is "in the best interest of [the] team" (CBSSports.com). Forget justice.

2. Meyer's contract must've been misplaced in all the money.

When Meyer signed with Ohio State, his contract stated that any violations of university rules committed by assistant coaches must be reported and failing to do so could result in termination (ESPN.com). In April, the contract was rewritten and resigned – foreshadowing anyone? This revised contract stated that any violations committed by OSU staff members to the sexual misconduct policy be immediately reported to the Title IX coordinator. Additionally, Meyers, like all OSU employees, was required to report knowledge of domestic abuse by a fellow university employee. I would assume the same policy and requirements held true at the University of Florida. Umm…want to say anything, Urban Meyer?

3. For Urban Meyer, success is more important than justice.

Why else would Meyer not have reported the domestic abuse? After the 2009 incident, Meyer began to counsel Smith, a fact Meyer did admit. And what a fabulous job he did…not! After the 2015 event, Smith's wife, Courtney, filed for a divorce and a restraining order against her husband. In a very recent article published on ESPN.com, it states that Meyer's special assistant at OSU and confidant for many years, Hiram DeFries, told Courtney not to pursue charges back in 2009. DeFries is reported advising Courtney, "If you don't drop the charges, Zach will never coach again. He's never hit you before. He was drinking. He'll probably never do it again. You should think about giving him a second chance." Now did these words come from DeFries or from Meyer's thirst to win?… Your guess is as good as mine.

4. Crooks and killers, Meyer has hid them all.

From 2005 to 2010, the years that Urban Meyer served as head coach of the Florida Gators, at least thirty-one players were arrested (NBCSports.com). After avoiding charges while playing under Meyers and being thrown out of school by Meyer's successor, Will Muschamp, Jenkins stated that "If Coach Meyer were still coaching, I'd still be playing for the Gators. Coach Meyer knows what it takes to win" – yet another supporting reason that for Meyer, success is more important than justice. There's not even time now to shed light on Aaron Hernandez, a star tight end on the 2008 title-winning Gators, who went on to be found guilty of murder during his career with the New England Patriots. So while 65 wins might be a significant number in five years, is it worth anything with the resounding 31?

Even just these four reasons make me question how I ever looked up to him. But wait, did I forget to mention that Meyer's administrative leave is paid? Meyers, pre-leave, was expected to make $7.6 million in the 2018 football season.

Ohio State may still be investigating, but as a young female who stands for both women's rights and justice, I think the answer is pretty clear – fire Meyer.

For obvious reasons, OSU is in no rush to get rid of him. They would lose millions between lawsuits and negative press for the $100 million program (Forbes.com). On top of it all, they would be letting go of their prized coach, who is said to be the second-best coach in all of college football history, just second to Alabama's Nick Saban.

Something is undoubtedly fishy to me, but, ladies and all the lads out there supporting justice, let's keep our fingers crossed for the best outcome. And, might I add, Meyer is no longer even on a list of potential heroes for me.

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To The Coach Who Ruined The Game For Me

We can't blame you completely, but no one has ever stood up to you before.
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I know you never gave it a second thought, the idea that you're the reason I and many others, never went any farther in our athletic careers.

I know you didn’t sincerely care about our mental health, as long as we were physically healthy and our bodies were working enough to play. It’s obvious your calling wasn’t coaching and you weren’t meant to work with young adults, some who look to you as a parent figure or a confidant.

I also know that if we were to express our concerns about the empty feeling we began to feel when we stepped onto the court, you wouldn’t have taken the conversation seriously because it wasn’t your problem.

I know we can't blame you completely, no one has ever stood up to you before. No one said anything when girls would spend their time in the locker room crying because of something that was said or when half the team considered quitting because it was just too much.

We can't get mad at the obvious favoritism because that’s how sports are played.

Politics plays a huge role and if you want playing time, you have to know who to befriend. We CAN get mad at the obvious mistreatment, the empty threats, the verbal abuse, “it's not what you say, its how you say it.”

We can get mad because a sport that we loved so deeply and had such passion for, was taken away from us single-handedly by an adult who does not care. I know a paycheck meant more to you than our wellbeing, and I know in a few years you probably won’t even remember who we are, but we will always remember.

We will remember how excited we used to get on game days and how passionate we were when we played. How we wanted to continue on with our athletic careers to the next level when playing was actually fun. We will also always remember the sly remarks, the obvious dislike from the one person who was supposed to support and encourage us.

We will always remember the day things began to change and our love for the game started to fade.

I hope that one day, for the sake of the young athletes who still have a passion for what they do, you change.

I hope those same athletes walk into practice excited for the day, to get better and improve, instead of walking in with anxiety and worrying about how much trouble they would get into that day. I hope those athletes play their game and don’t hold back when doing it, instead of playing safe, too afraid to get pulled and benched the rest of the season.

I hope they form an incredible bond with you, the kind of bond they tell their future children about, “That’s the coach who made a difference for me when I was growing up, she’s the reason I continued to play.”

I don’t blame you for everything that happened, we all made choices. I just hope that one day, you realize that what you're doing isn’t working. I hope you realize that before any more athletes get to the point of hating the game they once loved.

To the coach that ruined the game for me, I hope you change.

Cover Image Credit: Author's photo

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An Open Letter To The Coach Who Inspired Me Forever

Anyone who's found a love for a sport (or sports) while playing for rec teams, club teams or teams for a local school, can agree.. that somewhere along the way, there was a coach that changed everything.

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When I was five years old, my parents signed me up for my first organized sport. It happened to be the Fall of the year I entered kindergarten and the sport happened to be soccer. Now, at this age calling it, an "organized" sport is quite a reach. We met once a week, put on our colored pennies and ran around in a big field while a volunteer coach really thought they'd have the chance to corral us. That year, I continued through the seasons and got my first glimpse at a number of other sports. Cheering, basketball, and t-ball were all on my to-do list, and soon I was hooked.

Every week I would look forward to games on the weekend and a practice or two along the week. By the third or fourth grade, I believed I had narrowed down the sports I really wanted to play: soccer, basketball, and baseball. I played all of these until the fifth grade when it was first suggested that I switch over to softball.

I absolutely hated the idea of this but, that spring it happened. I was the first one to be "drafted" onto a team, that come to find out, was the team that always finished last. Even knowing this, I continued to play and learn every position and somehow leading my team to its first championship in years.

This.

This was the moment I learned to love the sport I least expected to, and first met the coach who would change my view on the game. Although the story leading up to this point may not have been the same as yours, we all know the moment we realized, this coach was going to change us.

For me, this coach over my middle and high school careers became one of the most important people in my world now revolving around this sport. He fought for my spot on the middle school team when the coach claimed I was "too young" and wanted to give older girls a spot. He pulled me to the varsity lineup as a Freshman and trusted me to catch every-game behind the plate of the senior pitcher who clearly had the speed and talent to pitch collegiately. He continued to mentor me, step by step as my role on the team transitioned from freshman catcher, to second baseman, to senior captain pitcher.

This coach changed everything for me. He taught me respect and accountability and I'd get out what I put into not only the sport, but all my other endeavors. He taught me integrity, and perseverance. But he also taught me how to have fun while I played. How to step onto the field and play my hardest, but know no-matter the score as long as I did my best it was a good game.

I had never known what it was like to have someone other than my parents be so invested in my success before. Of course, they're going to be there for every game, every carpool to practice and every early Sunday morning tournament. But often times, the coach who leaves it all on the field goes unnoticed. The coach who will sit after a game and cry with you after you played your very last game... the coach that truly made you believe in yourself.

So here's to him. Here's to the blood, sweet and tears left behind. Here's to "the good, the bad and the ugly" as he'd say, and learning that any bruise can be fixed by rubbing a little dirt on it. Thank you for your devotion. Thank you for shaping me in to the player I am today, and continuing to do so for others. Thank you for inspiring me everyday to be the best I could be.

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