After the season preview issue died down things went back to normal. I wrote what I wanted and nobody seemed to care. When girl’s basketball season rolled around the Varsity basketball coach wanted to promote an 8th grader to the team that just happened to be the daughter of the volleyball coach and the men’s basketball coach/athletic director.
In protest three senior girls quit the team. They saw the politics for what it was. (Only one 8th grader had ever been called up to a varsity sport at the school and this was kind of blatant favoritism that these coaches had been known for.) The girls decided after two days to go back to the coach and ask to get back on the team because they felt that maybe they overreacted and felt that they shouldn’t throw away what they have worked for over the years. (And I think they just like showering together.)
Even with an apology the coach wouldn’t allow them back on the team. Which led to parents getting involved, nasty letters to the local paper, and even a school board hearing. The favoritism and the twisting morals of the school’s athletic program were finally getting called into question.
At this point I figured that I had a hot story and wanted to write about it. It was getting coverage in the local paper and I felt that there was no reason for me not to be able to cover it. I talked with my English teacher and composed a letter to ask all the major adults involved to be interviewed. I also agreed to have the story put before the Principal way in advance so he could review it. Here I was doing something respectable, true journalistic work that most people would be proud of.
I wrote the framework of the story and talked to some of the students and parents involved. Then I placed a letter the mailbox (at school) of the main coaches. A couple of coaches talked to my English teacher telling him I shouldn’t be allowed to write about it. One pulled me aside and very professionally told me that they had no comment. Finally the women’s volleyball coach burst into the newspaper room during lunch and screamed at me notifying that her and her husband had no comment and they would be talking to a lawyer about this story. At the age of 17 I had my first lawsuit threat, it was a coming of age moment that I will never forget.
The entire situation had been blown way out of proportion. The school wasn’t going to let me rip them, there was a clear divide amongst coaches and teachers at the school about this and because they can’t shred each other they decided to go after me. In the end I wrote the story but it was gutted from a well-argued piece to four paragraphs. The parents I had interviewed read the piece and wanted to know where their quotes were? I told them what happened and the controversy grew.
Parents and teachers came up to me in public thanking me for trying to write the story saying it was about time someone called the AD and his wife on their shit. I had firmly implanted myself in a bullshit controversy that had been brewing for years.
Now I was on their radar as being a “trouble maker”. Instead of just walking away from the situation I apparently decided to piss them off more.
Have you ever had legal action threatened against you for no reason what so ever?