Editorial Potential game-changer in #MeToo movement
Let’s be honest, competitive high school sports is really kind of pointless, right?
You just need to back away from the field a few yards to realize how ludicrous the whole endeavor is.
The tempers of parents in the stands can go nuclear because their kids didn’t get credit for an assist (that’s the parents’ fault).
Many communities have documented histories of property damage mysteriously occurring on the eve of Thanksgiving football games due to rivalries between local athletes willing to risk criminal records over a prize that resembles half a cheap set of bookends (that’s the kids’ fault).
More attention is paid to achievements on the field than in the classroom (that’s on us, the media).
Team names are silly, a lazy reliance on the circle of life with mascots universally adopting angry stares.
They condition us to spend spare cash to watch millionaires hurl leather balls. Millionaires who will swap shirts bearing the hometown’s name at the drop of a dime (OK, a few billion dimes).
Forgive us, that’s the most cynical view.
In its purest form, sports offers invaluable lessons about coping with disappointment. Even the best baseball player hits the ball successfully only about one-third of the time. All basketball stars watch foul shots clang off the rim. There’s no such thing as a perfect round of golf.
It teaches children about teamwork, strategy and staying healthy.
Every now and then, it also holds the potential to sway the social conversation.
The Fairfield County’s Community Foundation Fund for Women & Girls recently launched an initiative to elevate the #MeToo movement with a program that will train high school coaches on best practices for guiding students to have healthy relationships.
The foundation, based in Norwalk, is fueling the “Coaches as Partners” project, a renewable grant totaling $100,000 that has already put a lot of points on the scoreboard.
It’s no small accomplishment that it has taken independent agencies and turned them into teammates. The YWCA Greenwich, The Center for Sexual Assault Crisis Counseling and Education in Stamford, Bridgeport’s Center for Family Justice and the Women’s Center of Greater Danbury were tasked with setting the course. The agencies recognized a gap and invited another member, the Triangle Community Center in Norwalk which serves the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender/queer community.
Foundation leadership acknowledges that sports is a “place to start,” and we hope the training eventually expands to include other clubs on high school campuses. And while they are starting with a primary focus on males, it’s important for female coaches to be knowledgeable about appropriate action when one of their athletes is in distress.
They effort will take time, but we encourage educators and other school districts in Connecticut and beyond to follow their lead.
This is what community teamwork looks like. This is how to accomplish more by crossing the aisle. This is what sports is capable of when we all keep track of the real score.