Last night, albeit at a late hour, I talked about the head football coach at Towson University in Maryland giving a post practice speech to his players uttering the phrase ““I do not care what your religion is. I do not care if I offend anyone. But even if Jesus and his disciples come in here on Saturday, we are going to f*** them up and get them the f*** out of here.”..saying he went over the line!


Because in my view, he didn’t need to go “Jesus Christ” and f-bomb in the same sentence to fire up his players.

I don't view coaches as just field generals…there’s also a moral component to what they do…and to trample on someone’s religious beliefs in the name of winning a game is, at best, cheesy!

However, in another case where moral leadership and sportsmanship is being debated, some are questioning the sportsmanship of the coaching staff at Marist High in Jersey City for having a pep rally where they burned a dummy of a player at rival Hudson Catholic. The rival school is crying “foul!”

In a stunt that some officials say crossed the boundaries of school spirit and sportsmanship, Marist High School burned the figure of a Hudson Catholic High School football player in effigy during a pep rally last week.

One photo from the pep rally, which took place Friday during school hours in the Marist High parking lot, shows a makeshift dummy wearing a Hudson Catholic shirt and sweatpants -- and a helmet -- hanging from coat rack. A second photo shows the dummy in flames, with adults taking photos.

Marist, of Bayonne, defeated Hudson Catholic, 34-0, at Ahern Veterans Stadium a few hours later.
"I don't know why they did it, but they did it," said Hudson Catholic principal Richard Garibell, who said he learned on the incident when photos of the pep rally began circulating by smart phone among students and faculty members. "We try and teach our kids to do the right thing."

Garibell was not happy about Marist's decision to include an burning effigy in their pep rally, but said that he had not spoken to any officials at the school, nor did he bring it to the attention of the state or league officials.

"There is a principal's conference next week and plan to bring it up with (Marist Principal) Alice (Miesnik) there," Garibell said.

A parent of one Hudson Catholic student who did not want to be identified said that he feared the incident would encourage other "ridiculous and stupid" acts by students, all in the name of a rivalry.

"What's next? Are they going to get a hawk (the Hudson Catholic mascot) and kill it?" he said.

Marist Athletic Director Ron Hayward said the idea to set fire to a Hudson Catholic dummy was his and defended it as a way to get the team excited for a big game.
"It's just a ritual -- you burn your rival's item," he said. "It was more of a pump-up-the-team thing. Schools do it all around the country."
"It was homecoming weekend and ... we wanted to revive the tradition for the homecoming," Miesnik said. "There was no malice involved. We take great pride in sportsmanship."

And I would agree…no malice intended…however some other coaches feel it went over the line nonetheless.

Now why do I feel there's a difference between the two.
In the Towson incident, the coach is using inflammatory language mixing sacred religious figures and obscenity to fire up his the other, no one in particular is being targeted.

So what do you consider to be “over the line” as far as rallying your players to be? Burning a rival teams player in effigy? (No!) Firing up your troops by bringing religion and obscenity into your warm up speech? (In my view, yes!)

What say you?