“Pallin’ around” with kids can get adults in trouble.
It’s happened to parents, teachers and coaches many times. It only takes a momentary lapse of judgment.
Just ask the folks with the Locust Gap team in the Mount Carmel Area Junior Baseball League, who suspended a coach for a time this season after a picture was taken and later shared on social media showing five players with a coach behind them all extending their middle fingers.
An attorney for Locust Gap Recreation Inc. helped the organization handle the situation swiftly and professional once it reached our eyes and ears and we pursued a story. Michael Smith told us, “The organization and the parents do not condone this photo and this is not a reflection of who we are as an organization, who these children are as young men, or who our coach is.”
He noted the photo was “not directed toward any other person or team and was intended by those involved as a private joke not to be shared.”
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Intended or not, the photo, taken by a parent, was posted to social media and, even though it was immediately removed, it was downloaded by another person and “distributed freely,” as Smith said.
We all know what happens from there.
Smith expressed disappointment that the photo was shared as it was, and that is unfortunate. But he and the team had to know that someone, with malicious intent or not, was going to do it once it hit the internet.
The larger point, of course, isn’t about the posting, the download or the distribution. It’s that an adult shouldn’t be involved in, condone or encourage such a photo in the first place.
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The coach involved has had a “flawless” record of nearly 20 years coaching in the league and 15 years with Locust Gap. We agree he deserves a second chance based on what others in the organization, and at least one grandparent we’ve heard from, have said about his positive conduct over the years.
We also recognize the efforts of all the adults involved in that and other leagues and how 99 percent of the work they do is positive and helps local youth.
The youth at Locust Gap “learned a valuable life lesson about posing for photos in the age of social media,” as Smith said.
But the lesson for the coach and all of us adults is not just about the social media era. We are reminded that, in dealing with children, we need to always be on guard and know that even a momentary lapse of judgment can have a lasting impact.