[eDebate] Video of Conduct of Coach Shanahan
Tue Aug 5 14:19:50 CDT 2008
August 5, 2008
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
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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