DIXON – The insults have been coming for a while. Then the injury happened Friday night.
It wasn’t a terrible injury. Better than initially expected, in fact. But the mild foot sprain gave Matt Coffey ample time to sit in the golf cart and think about all the nasty little barbs the small people will throw at the Dukes this upcoming week as they prepare for LaSalle-Peru.
If the first few weeks were any indicator, the Dukes should be able to beat the Cavaliers. From what Coffey told me earlier this week, that won’t be the overriding opinion in the halls of the high school.
“You walk down the hallway at your own high school, and your student body is telling you how bad you’re going to get beat on Friday night,” Coffey said during a phone interview Wednesday. “Why would you want to learn in an atmosphere like that?”
Dixon’s athletic department is in a tough spot. Because losers feed on struggling teams like parasites. Sure, Dixon programs like track and cross country are excellent year-in, year-out. But football runs the show, and basketball is its right-hand man. And, let’s face it, the Dukes’ marquee teams haven’t given their fans a lot to feel good about in recent memory.
So here is my public service announcement for the haters: Get a life. Or therapy. Whatever it takes to keep you from piling on kids who are already plenty hard on themselves.
See, I’m a very happy guy. When I hear about bullying – and that’s exactly what we’re talking about – it touches a nerve. Here’s what bullies are looking to accomplish: They want you to feel just as miserable as they do.
Isn’t that just about the worst concept you’ve ever heard of?
The only relief I get from it is the satisfaction that negative people usually go away and stop bothering people. They get jobs they hate, associate with other miserable people and, more often than not are easy to avoid.
But if you’re a high school kid who feasts on opportunities to point out others’ struggles, good eggs like Coffey probably won’t be able to avoid you. There’s only so much space in a hallway.
The same sad situation is going on in Rock Falls, in the high school, in the community. It’s viral, spreading rapidly.
“Seeing disrespect from our fans...I don’t get it,” senior Lucas Newburgh said Wednesday.
I brought the subject up to Dane Schielein and Quinton Douglas after Friday’s loss to Geneseo, and Schielein did his best to put it perspective. A handsome devil, he just might have a future in politics.
“The past history of Dixon High School and the student body…,” he paused for effect. “The fans are there, but there are so many people saying negative things. I don’t think a lot of our students understand that fans are always behind the athletes, no matter what.”
As for Douglas, he’s got the best tactic around down pat.
“I don’t pay them any attention,” he said. “I know they don’t do what I do, so they can’t really talk.”
That said, he didn’t mince words…well, word…when describing the loss.
“What’s the word?” he posed, staring with quiet ferocity. “Unacceptable.”