Posted October 23, 2013

Ohio high school football player suspended for poem criticizing coach, sons

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Two high school football referees were arrested for public intimidation. (Denver Post via Getty Images)

A Rittman High School football player was suspended for writing a “mean” poem. (Denver Post via Getty Images)

An Ohio high school football player has been kicked off the team and suspended from school for writing a poem critical of the coach and his sons.

The principal of Rittman High School said 16-year-old Nick Andre was suspended for turning in a poem, entitled “Stupid,” that the school classified as “hazing, harassment.”

Andre turned in the poem as part of a composition class assignment focusing on what makes students angry. The junior defensive end’s poem includes the team’s 1-7 record and alludes to head football coach Bill Dennis, his 25-year-old son and offensive coordinator Tyler, and his son, Blake, a senior wide receiver committed to Akron.

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Here’s the full text of Andre’s poem via USA Today:

Losing season,
Favoritism,
Non stop passes from best friend to best friend,
Continuously doing what doesn’t work,
The inability to separate being a father and a coach,
Dropped passes,
But yet still the “super star”,
Yeah right.
Where’s my scholarship?
I can drop passes,
Run backwards,
Miss tackles,
And be afraid to take a hit.
That’s top of the line Div. 1 material right there.
If that’s what they wanted,
They definitely got it.
This whole town will be glad when he’s gone.
For anyone who doesn’t understand what I’m saying,
AKRON’S SCREWED!

After he read it in front of his class on Friday, the school’s principal concluded that Andre, “Wrote a mean and disrespectful poem about another student and our athletic director/head coach.”

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Andre was suspended from school for four days and removed from the football team for the final two games of the season.

He told FOX 8:

“I felt like it was my right to express what I just felt,” he said. “Who am I harassing or hazing? I mean, I didn’t state any names.

“It’s like, wow, just over doing my school work, I get in trouble, get thrown off the football team, you know, get suspended for four days, which could potentially really mess up my grades.”

FOX 8′s report included an opinion from Cleveland Civil Rights Attorney Avery Friedman, who believes Andre’s rights have been violated:

“The breadth of expression, even in public schools, is virtually limitless, unless speech is creating material disruption to the educational process, which certainly isn’t here,” said Friedman.

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10 comments
tonybot3
tonybot3

I totally get where he's coming from...   I understand them punishing the kid, but i respect his voice.  The crazy thing is, i'm sure he came up with a poem that totally came from the heart... What he said is probably the main thing on his mind.

SandHills
SandHills

Hey challenged the football Gods...'nuff said.

As Mark Twain once said about ridicule...it may work on kings and even God, but obviously not football - the most powerful religion in the U.S.

Chip
Chip

Should have gotten an A. Definitely shouldn't have been punished in any way whatsoever.

Schools are supposed to promote expression, not stifle it.

Jeff63
Jeff63

More PC BS. Criticism isn't hazing. Disrespectful? Most definitely. Worth a 4-day suspension? Not even worth one day.

stabmasterarson21
stabmasterarson21

Overreaction I guess.  Freedom of Speech in America?  Only when it suits a particular group of people...

Tom72
Tom72

that just goes to show what I've always believed to be true; in a country with free speech you can say anything you want, except the truth.

AaronFrank
AaronFrank

sounds like the coach needs to grow a pair

MidwestGolfFan
MidwestGolfFan

Talk about nepotism. 

Clearly, the tail (football) wags the dog (school). 

P.S. For every person frustrated enough to say something, there's a dozen or more suffering in silence.  I'm guessing Coach (and his sons) aren't too popular with his players.

chuckles1004
chuckles1004

I've seen too much favoritism in sports in my time.  I can definitely understand the child's frustration.  He shouldn't be punished for his opinion.