Art Briles Is Coaching High School Football, and It Makes Us Want to Turn Off the Lights

There are few more joyful experiences of Texas than cheering for the home team at a small-town football game. The shops and restaurants decorate to get ready, the band plays, cheerleaders and spirit squads make noise, teachers and moms sell Frito pie and other delicacies, and it seems everybody shows up, even if their only connection to the school is paying property taxes.Winning is a big deal, not just to the students, but to the town. There’s a spirit of community that needs to be felt to be understood.We love this rite of Texas autumn because we’ve felt it. And because we’ve felt it, we also know it’s about so much more than the final score.It appeals to something deeper and better in us. It has to, or it won’t be the same.What the school board in Mount Vernon did when they voted to hire Art Briles as their coach might help them win. But it won’t make their football program better. It won’t make their town better.Mount Vernon is a dot of 2,662 people on the route to Texarkana. Briles is the disgraced former Baylor University football coach who media reports and an internal investigation exposed for covering up accusations of rape aimed at players. Briles didn’t report the allegations to police or university leaders, allowing the alleged abuse to continue. Though he was not accused of any crime, his ethical choices were contemptible, putting the football program over victims and ultimately hurting everyone involved as well as Baylor itself.Mount Vernon, which plays at the 3A level, announced on Friday it had hired Briles because, according to superintendent Jason McCullough, “He is passionate about investing in the lives of young people and helping them to succeed both on the field and in life.”  Continue reading...

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