A youth football coach in Florida assaulted one of his players on December 7, and LeBron James had a lot to say about it.
First and foremost, let me be perfectly clear about two things — one, LeBron James reacting to something as horrendous as a coach assaulting a child is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s wonderful. We as a society need to call out despicable acts of all kinds to move forward, grow, and heal as a nation. My problem is not with LeBron’s reaction. My problem is that LeBron’s reaction should not be news. Two, the acts of this youth football coach are criminal and grotesque in every single way, and he deserves to be locked away for child abuse.
It seems as though, lately, LeBron’s reaction to events — whether to former teammate Kyrie Irving’s comments, or to Ohio State’s football team beating Michigan State, or to J.J. Redick’s comments about Stan Van Gundy’s practices — is somehow used as an ethical barometer.
Redick, entering his 15th season in the NBA, made a comment about the training camp regimen of his new head coach, Stan Van Gundy. LeBron retweeted the video with some laughing emojis and a simple comment, and apparently that was enough for news articles.
It seems pretty inconsequential. Why are we making this into something that it’s not?
Every tweet, every emoji, and every comment by LeBron is somehow turned into a headline.
LeBron James is not a moral compass. LeBron James is not what defines our emotional and ethical reaction to events.
Professional athletes should absolutely use their platform to inspire change, and to condemn gross acts like child abuse. But maybe, just maybe, the news story should be about a youth football coach violently assaulting one of his players on the field, and perhaps question why a parent or referee didn’t immediately put an end to it.
So, if you’re interested in a story about what happened, instead of about what an athlete said about it, here you go.
According to TMZ, the coach has been identified as Gerrel Williams, who worked for Georgia’s Chatham County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff confirmed to TMZ that Williams worked as a counselor at the county detention center. CCSO made it clear that Williams “is no longer an employee” following the release of this video.
The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office investigated Williams based on the video, contacted the victim’s mother, and she stated that she did not want to press charges. Prosecutors could still move forward based on the evidence they have, and dammit they should.
Williams has been barred from all American Youth Football activities, according to the organization.
“We are of course beyond disappointed in the coach’s actions, which are wholly inconsistent with the fundamental value of youth sports,” said AYF Executive Vice President Adam Laufer.
This disgusting display of physical harm should land him in jail. Plain and simple. Simply removing him from having the ability to coach is not enough.