Week 7: Ugly injury should not mean ugly incident

There isn't a football fan in San Diego that doesn't feel for Khari Kimbrough. The San Diego High quarterback was a big factor in the Cavers' return to winning football this season. The senior is a true passing/running threat that was garnering attention from D-1 scouts. To have his season, and potentially his career, ended by a freak tackle is hard for anyone to accept.

There also isn't a parent in San Diego that doesn't feel for Khari's father and San Diego High Head Coach, Keir Kimbrough. To see your son lying on the field in agony, leg twisted, his medical treatment delayed, is a football-loving parent's worst nightmare.

I know the match-up was heated. I've heard all the allegations of pre-game threats and trash talking on Facebook. I've heard Coach Kimbrough requested (and received) a safer “drop-off” site for his team. I've heard the stories of unsportsmanlike conduct in the JV game and the taunting of an injured Kimbrough. City district officials are reviewing all of these allegations, and KUSI will report those findings when they are made public.

What I can speak to is the video our PPR crew shot, my co-workers' eyewitness accounts, and off-the-record conversations I have had with school administrators, game officials, coaches and players.

Here is my take:

1. The tackle was clean. Football is a rough sport and sometimes there are terrible injuries. Last Friday was a perfect example. Kimbrough is a fast and elusive runner. You're lucky if you can get a hand on him, much less deliver a premeditated, dirty blow.

2. PPR's video continued to roll after the play, but it's inconclusive as to whether or not a Morse player taunted the injured Kimbrough. If true, the player(s) involved should be disciplined.

3. It's been reported that the game was stopped due to the gruesome nature of the injury. This isn't accurate. The game was discontinued because the game officials felt it was unsafe to continue. There was a fear that players were being encouraged to avenge the injured Kimbrough.

4. There is a downside to coaching your own son. It's hard for any coach to be objective when one of his players is injured, but when the player is your own flesh and blood, objectivity goes right out the window.

5. There were complaints about the delay in medical treatment. A certified trainer was on the field, but it took too long administer the proper pain medication. The severity of the injury caught medical personnel by surprise. A similar situation occurred Friday night at Lincoln High School for their game with Carson High. An apparent neck/head injury of a player was met with a too-slow response by the EMT's onsite. This is unacceptable and needs to be addressed at once.

6. There were adults in authoritative roles Friday night that didn't behave properly. They got caught up in the animosity surrounding the game and forgot it's their job to protect the kids, no matter what uniform they wear.

There will be some that blame last Friday's debacle on cuts in school funding. It's a reality for schools like San Diego High that combining resources with other schools is making it a bureaucratic nightmare to hire qualified assistant coaches for every sport, especially football.

It's also true that it is getting harder for every school in the county to find qualified coaches willing to put in the long hours for meager (if any) compensation.

But, at end of the day, if you take on the responsibility of teaching and/or coaching our youth, you must rise above any situation and realize every moment of every day is a teaching moment. What the kids learned Friday night was an embarrassing lesson in misconduct that taints all of us associated with high school athletics.

High school coaches should never be judged by wins and losses. A coach's sole responsibility is to teach their kids sportsmanship, how to win with grace and lose with dignity. Last Friday at Morse High, that lesson was ignored. School administrators, coaches and parents from both schools failed their children in the worst possible way.

James Taylor once wrote, “There are three sides to every story: Yours, mine, and the cold, hard truth.” From my seat, that cold, hard truth is Friday's game should have been completed without incident. Both teams should have come together at midfield, shared a moment for Kimbrough and continued to play on within the rules of the game.

That fact that there wasn't enough control (on both sides of the field) to finish the contest deserves our immediate attention. Tonight, there is a stain on any adult who fanned the flames instead of calming the waters.

 

Paul Rudy
Creator of the Prep Pigskin Report

Email me at ppr@kusi.com

 

Categories: KUSI