Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Middle School Football, Hooters, Two Letters, And Decency. . . .

Tim Keller defines "wisdom" as "having competence in the complexities of life where the moral rules or laws don't apply." With life becoming more and more complex, perhaps its no surprise that foolishness now eclipses wisdom in a world where our need to pursue the latter is becoming more and more crucial. . . especially as it relates to our kids.

Coach Burbach
Consider this news story I encountered this morning. . . a story presenting a dilemma that appears to be a "no-brainer" regarding the right thing to do. . . but a story that clearly shows just how foolish we've become. As the football season came to a close at Corbett Middle School in Corbett, Oregon, head coach Randy Burbach asked his players where they would like to have their end-of-the-season awards party with their families. OK. . . these are 7th and 8th grade boys. So, it's not at all surprising that the majority of players wanted to go to Hooters. So, Burbach scheduled the event for the local Hooters restaurant. Equally not surprising is the fact that some parents complained. When the school district's athletic director stepped in and told Coach Burbach to change his plans to a more appropriate venue for a school-sanctioned event, Burbach said "no." In fact, Burbach told his AD that he would rather lose his job than change the venue. He didn't want to be "bullied by a vocal minority." And lose his job he did.

The school district's website is home to this well and wisely-written letter sent to Corbett Middle School families from AD, J.P. Soulagnet. . .

Dear Families and Friends of Corbett 7th/8th Grade Football –

First I want to thank Brian Davis for the e-mail he sent out regarding the end of the year celebration and the fact that he and his family will not be in attendance. I spoke with Randy Burbach this evening and asked him to move the event to a different venue so that all of the athletes and their families could attend and feel comfortable about the location and enjoy the season. He was unyielding and emphatically said no for a number of reasons. As a school district and athletic department we do not support nor condone the decision to hold an end of season celebration at Hooter’s for any of our teams, groups, or clubs cross the board and at at all levels including high school. This was a choice made by Randy Burbach on his own accord. This is no longer a Corbett Middle School Football event.

I’m disappointed on a many different levels. The one that affects me the most however is the fact that “the team” is the one that loses out. It has become an issue that is no longer about your boys.
Another unfortunate thing is that we will lose coaches that did a great job turning a group of middle school boys into a cohesive, affective football team. I’m very supportive of the time and effort that they have put in and contributed towards Corbett Football but cannot further support them in coaching roles here at Corbett based on the unwillingness to change the location of this event to a more appropriate spot.

I spoke to many people over the weekend regarding the location of the event and time after time they looked at me in disbelief. I started the conversation off with posing a question. Outside of a bar, tavern, or strip club where would be the next worse place in the lines of restaurants to take a middle school football team to? Time after time the reply was Hooters.

Their menu and food is good! They however are not known worldwide for their family style restaurant. If you have never been to a Hooter’s restaurant you can visit their website at This international chain bills itself as “delightfully tacky yet unrefined”.

Some might say that this restaurant objectifies women. I would tend to agree. It is not a restaurant that I would feel good about my wife or daughter working at. I think it sends the wrong message to our young men and that saddens and worries me the most. I’m surprised that more families are not concerned. If my son had played on this team our family would not be in attendance as well. As a 21 year old he was shocked about the location.

I'm not sure that the issue any more is that we don't think. Rather, I believe that the issue in our culture increasingly is that we don't know how to think or what  to think. Consequently, what we do wind up thinking is that taking our middle school boys to Hooters is actually a great idea. Reality is, we have become incredibly foolish. And when vice becomes virtue and foolishness morphs into that which is seen to be wise. . . well. . . welcome to Coach Burbach's world. It's a world where the wise old owl is the one pictured in the Hooters logo.

Reading this story and the letter from the AD reminds me of another letter I recently saw posted on a Facebook friend's page. This time, the letter came from a mother and blogger by the name of Kim Hall. Kim's letter to teenage girls oozes wisdom in a world where girls are encouraged from every angle to just go wild. . .

Dear girls,

I have some information that might interest you. Last night, as we sometimes do, our family sat around the dining-room table and looked through the summer’s social media photos.

We have teenage sons, and so naturally there are quite a few pictures of you lovely ladies to wade through. Wow – you sure took a bunch of selfies in your skimpy pj’s this summer! Your bedrooms are so cute! Our eight-year-old daughter brought this to our attention, because with three older brothers who have rooms that smell like stinky cheese, she notices girly details like that.

I think the boys notice other things. For one, it appears that you are not wearing a bra.

I get it – you’re in your room, so you’re heading to bed, right? But then I can’t help but notice the red carpet pose, the extra-arched back, and the sultry pout. What’s up? None of these positions is one I naturally assume before sleep, this I know.

So, here’s the bit that I think is important for you to realize. If you are friends with a Hall boy on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter, then you are friends with the whole Hall family.

Please know that we genuinely like staying connected with you this way! We enjoy seeing things through your unique and colorful lens – you are insightful, and often very, very funny.

Which is what makes your latest self-portrait so extremely unfortunate.

That post doesn’t reflect who you are at all! We think you are lovely and interesting, and usually very smart. But, we had to cringe and wonder what you were trying to do? Who are you trying to reach? What are you trying to say?

And now – big bummer – we have to block your posts. Because, the reason we have these (sometimes awkward) family conversations around the table is that we care about our sons, just as we know your parents care about you.

I know your family would not be thrilled at the thought of my teenage boys seeing you only in your towel. Did you know that once a male sees you in a state of undress, he can’t quickly un-see it? You don’t want our boys to only think of you in this sexual way, do you?

Neither do we. We’re all more than that.

And so, in our house, there are no second chances with pics like that, ladies. We have a zero tolerance policy. I know, so lame. But, if you want to stay friendly with our sons online, you’ll have to keep your clothes on, and your posts decent. If you post a sexy selfie (we all know the kind), or an inappropriate YouTube video – even once – it’s curtains.

I know that sounds so old-school, but we are hoping to raise men with a strong moral compass, and men of integrity don’t linger over pictures of scantily clad high-school girls.

Every day I pray for the women my boys will love. I hope they will be drawn to real beauties, the kind of women who will leave them better people in the end. I also pray that my sons will be worthy of this kind of woman, that they will be patient – and act honorably – while they wait for her.

Girls, it’s not too late! If you think you’ve made an on-line mistake (we all do – don’t fret – I’ve made some doozies, even today!), RUN to your accounts and take down the closed-door bedroom selfies that makes it too easy for friends to see you in only one dimension.

Will you trust me? There are boys out there waiting and hoping for women of character. Some young men are fighting the daily uphill battle to keep their minds pure, and their thoughts praiseworthy – just like you.

You are growing into a real beauty, inside and out.

Act like her, speak like her, post like her.

Mrs. Hall

We need more people like Kim Hall, Brian Davis, and J.P. Soulagnet who pursue and implement wisdom. We need to pursue wisdom, live wisdom, and teach wisdom to our kids. And this is where I'm constantly reminding myself  to fill and transform my self and the well of my soul with a knowledge of God's Word. Solomon says it so well: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline" (1:7). "The Lord gives wisdom" (2:6). It is in His word that we "find the knowledge of God" (1:5).

1 comment:

KED said...

I'm bummed that you didn't at least call out the egregious double standard that Mrs. Hall's letter presents -- her half naked sons frolicking in bathing suits in the same letter that she shames girls for basically having bodies at all. Yes, of course she's calling out the sexy selfies -- I get it, I really do. I am mom to two pre-adolescent daughters. But her letter and the assumptions and beliefs that undergird it betray a far deeper and more sinister view of female bodies and the female duty to avoid/attract the male gaze. I am also a woman who has grown up in Christianity and know first-hand the horrible self-consciousness that this sort of language produces for girls and women. God gave us female bodies and then many of us spend every waking moment mitigating that reality -- hiding our bodies, disguising our bodies, perfuming our bodies, starving our bodies, shaving our bodies and ultimately hating our bodies. Our female bodies we discover are inherently limiting to our service in the kingdom, our 'respectability,' even our participation at church. From my perspective, Mrs. Hall's letter is as demeaning to girls as the coach's determination to take his team to Hooters.