It's a shame that this column has to be written.
The fact that this sordid story has to be told means that other worthy subjects will not receive the recognition they deserve. For instance, Augusta Christian tailback Joel Whinghter rushed for more than 400 yards last week, which probably is a county record. Also, the Harlem Bulldogs knocked off Laney for the biggest win in Harlem football history since Moby Dick was a minnow.
But the good news has been pushed aside, because last week at Lakeside High School, Principal Victor Lee was suspended for 20 days by the Columbia County Board of Education.
What did Lee do to warrant such a stiff penalty? Did he steal from the school or hit a student? No! All Lee did was hire a man that he felt would be a great asset to the Lakeside athletic program.
After Steve Crislip decided to retire after the 2000-01 school year, Lee hired Ed Koester to replace Crislip as the school's football coach and athletic director.
When Koester was selected to lead Lakeside, there was an uproar among some Panther players and their parents, who wanted to see longtime Lakeside coach Randy Hill get the job.
But upon meeting Koester, most of the naysayers were immediately impressed. As a matter of fact, Lakeside Athletic Booster Club President Rick Evans raved to me personally about Koester's attitude and go-get-'em approach.
Considering this, you can understand my surprise when I got an anonymous phone call last week from a Lakeside parent who said that Evans was leading a charge to oust Koester - just four games into the 2001 season!
Lakeside's 1-3 start looked bad on paper, but on closer inspection, Lakeside's three losses came to teams with a combined record of 18-0, and two of those defeats were by only seven points.
Still, Koester was on the hot seat. I almost dropped the phone when I found out why: Koester was under fire was because one student - just one - wasn't starting and that player's parents weren't happy.
There is no reason to mention the player in question, because it's not his fault that some adults are acting like morons. And the parents involved should be ashamed of themselves!
I'm getting ahead of myself, so let's backtrack and examine how this has anything to do with Victor Lee.
The parents couldn't just go after Koester just because he made a coaching decision to start one player over another, so Lee became the target.
The fact is, as an observer with no vested interest in this, I can tell you that the better player is starting.
Despite this reality, a small but powerful group of parents began to investigate Koester's coaching history. They uncovered an infraction that Koester had committed four years ago while coaching in Texas.
Koester had been suspended for conducting an illegal practice, and when the detectives dug this up, there was blood in the water!
During the hiring process, Lee did not give this information about Koester to the school board, so the parents used this opportunity to pounce on the principal.
Subsequently, the Columbia County school board, citing concealed information, suspended Lee for 20 days.
The parents failed to mention that the illegal practice in question had been approved by coach Koester's school, Arlington Heights.
The bottom line is that this was a minor infraction which occurred four years ago.
It's sad that a small group of parents think they can have a coach or principal fired over something so petty, and what's worse, that they would even try to do it.
Is this good for the football team? No! Lakeside has the potential to make the state playoffs, but that prospect is cloudy if the parents continue to interfere.
Is this good for the school? No! Lee isn't in his office today because a few parents had to have their way. This teaches students that if things aren't going your way, then do whatever it takes - right or wrong - to get what you want.
Finally, and most importantly, is it good for the players involved? Absolutely not! To put it bluntly, the entire situation is embarrassing. Instead of being congratulated this week for beating Josey, the players are probably hearing whispers behind their backs.
We've all seen when good parents go bad, and athletics have a way of exposing the dark side - but this is worse than pushing a son or daughter into sports or yelling at an official.
Those behind the Lakeside controversy are attempting to have people fired, and that can ruin someone's life.
So, to the majority of Lakeside parents who support the players and coaches: Do not let this minority have its way. If these bitter bullies take over, you will never regain control of your school.
Ashley Brown's radio program can be heard from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday on News-Talk Sports 1630 AM. His e-mail address is AB@WRDWAM.com.
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