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Boycotts

I’m a big fan of protesting for what you believe.

My first encounter with a protest was 1975 Calumet High School, Gary, Indiana. My dad was an incredibly popular principal at CHS. Calumet was and still is a melting pot high school consisting of black, white, hispanic, you name it, we had all nationalities under one roof.

I was in 7th grade and loved Friday nights standing on the CHS sidelines at football games, going to basketball games, then having a ton of students converge on our house for pizza and to toilet paper our trees…it was freaking awesome.

Then it changed. March 11, 1975.

A man named Herb Abramson became the Superintendent of my dad’s school. He was THE BOSS. Legend had it my father had punched ole’ Herb in a bar years earlier for being a mouth. Not sure if that’s true, but I like the legend.

First order of business for Herb was to demote my dad. Instead of being principal, my dad was now a 7th grade typing teacher at one of the junior highs.

Abramson got his revenge.

The students and faculty walked…they literally left school and marched down Ridge Road in the middle of the very busy street blocking traffic, demanding reinstatement. I came home from school in 8th grade to big tv trucks on our street. As I’m getting off the bus, some goof with a mic and camera asked what I thought of the protests. I had no idea, but I was intrigued.

That night, there it was …front page Gary Post Tribune …students/faculty demand Dakich’s reinstatement. I loved it, I loved the strength, the conviction to take a stand.

The ending isn’t great as my father bailed Abramson out and via a megaphone squelched the protest and eventually things went back to normal.

For me, things were never normal again. I was gonna stand up when and where I could. I respect the protest.

I’ve been boycotted.

It happened in 1997-98 at Bowling Green St University – my first year as a head coach. End of the season after a loss I lit into my team for a few hours on the bus ride home. That was it for the players. A bad year filled with injuries and a maniacal young coach constantly on their ass.

It happened Friday, February 20, 1998 as I was getting ready for practice, and talking to recruit Trent Jackson, Jr. in my office. One of my coaches came in and let me know that only walk ones and managers had showed for practice. We had a game the next day. The scholarship guys were protesting.

What the hell was I gonna do? First order of business was call my AD, Dr. Ron Zwierlein. Dr Z. knew I had the program on the right track, so we put a call into the football folks and lined up guys that wanted to play.

Then we waited. Sometimes you must stand up to protest.

The players wanted a meeting at 7pm.

We had a meeting. At that meeting the players were all given transfer forms to fill out. They were given a choice. Stay or leave. Not going to bore you with the rest, but unlike my dad’s demotion, this has a great ending.

We won the next day.

Two years later, most of these same guys were part of BG’s first outright MAC CHAMPIONSHIP since 1983 and a couple others were on staff.

Oh, the recruit Trent Jackson came to BG despite witnessing everything that happened that day and was an important piece to a championship team!!

Why the background?

Simple: I want you to understand why I love what NBA and other professionals athletes are doing. Standing up for what they believe is huge in my world. Talk? Everyone can talk. Putting yourself out there, risking something is what I respect.

George Hill and I had our differences a few years ago over his comments about “fake Pacer” fans. I didn’t respect his stance, but I sure as hell do respect his stance here on the shooting in Kenosha.

I will never support looting or the beating of innocent people. Those involved should be arrested, charged, and put away. Looting is opportunistic cowardice that is completely different than standing up for what you believe or trying to right a wrong.

I believe NBA players to be sincere in their motives.

I believe NBA players feel in their heart of hearts this is the time for drastic measures and damn the consequence.

I respect it. I admire it. I wholeheartedly support it.

My hope is that people actually listen. I don’t know exactly what happened in Kenosha and I have always supported the police, but NBA players feel this is their time to stand up, their time to attempt to change or influence a broader discussion by not playing.

I’m not exactly sure what is to gain by not playing, but I sure as hell respect taking a swing.

So thank you Herbie f’ing Abramson. Because of your idiotic decision, I learned to embrace something I may never had embraced.

Life works in very strange ways.

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