Strong physical contact OK for players, not for coaches?

Coach Keith

By Pedro Heizer

Sports Editor

Boca Raton High School Bobcats football coach Keith Byars was fired after allegedly shoving a player along the sidelines during the loss to Jupiter on Friday, September 16.

The Palm Beach Post reported that it had videotapes of the game that showed Byars shoving quarterback Kevin Anderson in the chest with two hands during an outburst in the second quarter of the 26-19 loss to the Jupiter High School Warriors.

The incident raises questions about proper behavior at a football game without really answering the questions.  It also touches on a dichotomy affecting play at all levels of the game.  Why is strong physical contact allowed on the playing field, but if a coach happens to touch a player, it will cost him his job?

Byars took over the head coach position in 2009 when he replaced Eddie Giersbrook, who was forced out amid a Florida High School Athletic Association investigation into illegal recruiting practices at Boca High.

Byars had a record of 14-11 as the head coach of the Bobcats, leading them to a 9-3 record his first season at the helm leading them to the Regional Quarterfinals. The following season wasn’t a walk in the park as the Bobcats struggled to a 4-6 record and missed the playoffs.

The incident with Byars, who seemed to lack community support despite his obvious coaching abilities, isn’t the first involving a football coach. In 2009, Benjamin High School football coach Ron Ream was forced to resign after he was accused of putting his hands on a player during a
practice, but later Ream was reinstated because of community support.

A football coach being fired for putting his hands on a player is ridiculous. He’s a football coach, not a math teacher. He’s there to motivate the kids, push them to their best, and how can he do that if he will be fired if he touches his players?

We are doing an injustice to the student-athletes by doing this. Yes, I know football coaches should not hit kids but putting your hands on a player is not that same thing as physically hurting them. Coaches grab players by their facemasks, shoulder pads and yell at them after a bad throw, a missed tackle or a fumble.

If the player is so offended by what the coach had to say to him, maybe he shouldn’t be playing football. Coaches are there to build character and no matter what you want to say, every coach plays to win the game.

Maybe Boca High wasn’t the right place for him. Maybe he will find another place, maybe not. But one thing is for sure, if Boca High has “good guys” as their head coaches, they won’t be seeing a championship for the next three decades.