[eDebate] Video of Conduct of Coach Shanahan

Art Kyriazis akbiotech
Tue Aug 5 14:19:50 CDT 2008


August 5, 2008

Dear Folks:

It was with some disheartenment that I read the recent round of posts 
and watched the actual youtube video of Coach Shanahan actually having a 
temper tantrum, disrobing and nearly striking a woman in full view of 
nearly a hundred onlookers during a debate round.   I probably won't 
make any friends by what I'm about to say, but I feel compelled to 
express my point of view.

In keep with my general debate judging and coaching philosophy, and I 
excerpt it here:

"Be nice and pleasant to one another during the round.  Rudeness and/or 
un-pleasantries are uncalled for in academic debate."

Obviously, the video shows something less than this.  I was frankly 
shocked by what I saw.  Have the proprieties and niceties of academic 
debate descended so far so soon?

In addition to the foregoing, I guess I would have to add that in 
addition to appearing to be very much out of his mind during the video, 
Coach Shanahan was barefoot, poorly dressed, poorly kempt, had at least 
several months growth of beard, very long uncombed hair and appeared 
very much like a person who was living on a street or a homeless 
individual.   The very last thing he looked like was a responsible 
teacher, coach or person that I would entrust the care of children or 
the teaching of students to.

I am the parent of three children, and I have been teaching and 
instructing for a long time, and I have a strong feeling that it is 
essential that a professional coach or teacher has a responsibility to 
keep his hair and beard (even if they are long) properly and neatly 
combed and cut; to be properly dressed, meaning to wear long pants and a 
blazer or jacket during a round, keep his shirt tucked into his pants, 
and wear a tie if needed; and to observe a code of dress and of conduct 
that is higher than that what we expect of students and debaters. 

In short I believe teachers and coaches should set a higher standard of 
dress and of conduct than we would expect of our students.  Coaches and 
teachers in debate are examples for students to follow.  If you are 
going to dress badly, then conduct yourself well; if you are going to 
dress well, then conduct yourself well.

What we have with Shanahan, is somewhat who is dressed like a homeless 
person and acting like a madman.  How this is in any regard proper 
conduct for a coach is beyond me.  Perhaps he is brilliant.  Perhaps he 
has won many trophies over the years.  But what is shown here on the 
video is bizarre and inexcusable.

Finally, and most pertinently, the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled on 
the issue of racially motivated use of either (1) challenges for cause 
or (2) peremptory challenges, to remove jurors on account of race, 
particularly in the case of prosecutors seeking to remove african 
american jurors in criminal trials (they are considered more likely to 
acquit and less likely to deliver the death penalty).  In each and every 
case, the Supreme Court has rule that this practice is UNCONSTITUTIONAL. 

Consequently, what are we to make of a peremptory challenge of a debate 
judge based upon or motivated by race?

The answer is, it is a violation of the person's civil rights, to the 
extent that the individual so removed has either a liberty or property 
interest at stake in the proceedings, which in this case, she evidently 
does.  Nor does there have to be state action involved for her to make a 
case here, c.f. Runyon v. McCrary, ______ U.S. _____ (1976)  (purely 
private white only segregated schools in the south could be sued under 
civil rights laws even though no state action and no federal funding).

Consequently, I would have to conclude that there is actually a civil 
rights action here, and anywhere else, where an african american coach 
is excluded from a judging panel by means of a peremptory challenge. 

The presumption has to be /de facto/ that the exclusion is racially 
challenged, and at trial the burden is on the excluding party to show 
that the exclusion was not racially motivated. 

Applied here, at trial Coach Shanahan would have to demonstrate by a 
preponderance of the evidence that his exclusion was not racially 
motivated.     

It would be wise for CEDA to adopt a policy that no African-American 
judge can be excused from a judging panel by means of a peremptory 
challenge where they are the only African-American judge on the panel.  
Similar rules should be adopted protecting other protected groups as 
well if CEDA deems appropriate.  It should be noted that the law is 
quite liberal in California in this regard and the Unruh Act is quite 
extensive as is the Federal ADA with regards to persons with disabilities. 

It is not, as coach Shanahan claims, about winning.  It's about 
learning, and about learning to be inclusive, not exclusive.  My late 
mother spent thirty five years teaching in the Philadelphia School 
District primarily african american youth helping many of them to very 
fine professional careers and if there is one lesson she taught me in 
this life, it was to treat all persons equally and respect the content 
of a person's character and to ignore the color of their skin.  I am 
embarrassed for CEDA and for academic debate by this video and I hope 
sincerely that corrective action is taken.

--Dr. Arthur Kyriazis, M.S.E.
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