A regrettably public incident between a coach and his son unfolded on the sidelines of an Elba junior varsity game recently. In a video on social media, a player trots off the field and is quickly run after by an adult on the sideline who pushes him forcefully from behind.
Elba Coach Pate Harrison addressed the incident on social media: “By now most of you have heard that I embarrassed myself, the Elba football program, and my family,” Harrison wrote. “In 14 years of coaching I have never truly lost my cool until my own child told me to shut up. That is no excuse for me snatching him up, and I apologize to everyone who was there to witness this event. I am truly sorry that my action has put the team in a bind and the extra work on the coaches. The program is bigger than any one person and I know the team will continue to be successful.”
Harrison deserves credit for owning up to his action – but little more. The footage is difficult to watch, and the revelation that it involved a father and son instead of simply a coach and a player doesn’t make it easier.
The toughest task falls to Elba Superintendent Chris Mosely, who quickly put Harrison on administrative leave and has said he is reserving judgment until he determines all the facts. That’s his best course.
However, school officials must allow the welfare of the youngsters who witnessed the unfortunate act to shape reaction to the matter. There’s no place in school – or school-based sports – for violent outbursts, regardless of incitement.