Friday, September 15, 2006

MTV's "Two-A-Days" and Hoover High School


I should begin by saying I am an avid football fan. I played it as a boy growing up, and I now have three sons, each of whom play and each of whom I’ve coached in youth leagues. I attended every home game while an under-grad and graduate student at Notre Dame, and have missed very few home games at our high school in the 22 years I’ve been there. I believe that football can teach young men important virtues: perserverance, discipline, putting the team first, learning how to handle winning with class and losing with grace.

And yet, I was sick to my stomach after watching “Two-A-Days”, a production of MTV chronicling the Hoover, Al football team’s 2005 season.

Hoover’s football program, led by their egomaniacal coach, Rush Probst, has won 5 of the last 6 state championships in the highest classification of football in Alabama. They are unabashed in their desire to be the #1 ranked team in America, and they are well on a path toward that goal in 2006, currently ranked as #1 by USA Today.

I don’t begrudge Hoover’s desire to be the best. But after watching an episode of “Two-A-Days” (You can view a trailer of the program by clicking here), I'd observe the following:

First, it is deeply disheartening that the superintendent and Board of Education would give MTV unfettered access to Hoover High’s campus, allowing its students to be used as a tool to advance MTV's commercial interests. Without listing all the ways in which MTV both exploits and advances values incongruous with the mission of ANY school, I will simply reference a 2005 study completed by ParentsTV.org entitled "MTV Smut Peddlers: Targeting Kids with Sex, Drugs and Alcohol". Is it callous indifference or merely our impotence as adults that we would allow such a network to wander the classrooms, hallways and lockerrooms of our school? Is our judgment so blinded by our pride in a successful high school football team that we're OK with made-for-TV soap operas starring our children?

Second, though there is some idolization of cheerleaders and football players within the culture of every high school in America, “Two-A-Days” advances the celebrity status of both exponentially, confirming with the program’s younger viewers that good looks, athletic prowess, and popularity are all that truly matters. I can only hope that the faculty and parents of Hoover High are now embarassed by such a depiction of their school and their children. I suspect that they are.

Finally, despite my admiration for teams that strive to be successful, I believe that Coach Probst and the Hoover program have confused the “ends” and the “means”. Ultimately, the “end” (or goal) of our schools and athletic programs are one and the same: to create people who are both educated and virtuous. Winning games is a means to an end, not the end in itself. When we build competitive, winning programs, we can challenge our children to demand more of themselves, fostering the virtues that football can teach so well. However, when high school football teams rent hotel rooms for home games to "focus" the night before the game, when cursing at players is so commonplace that coaches think nothing of it, even when they know the cameras are rolling (and what happens when the cameras are off?), when a head coach chastises a mother whose son was sick and missed practice, even with an excuse from a doctor, and then defends his position by saying “Other programs don’t win like we do”, or when this same coach says to his players, after a loss, that he holds their future in his hands and that if they don't put out more for him, he'll nix their chance at a scholarship, or when a "team chaplain" quotes scripture in a pre-game devotion and then tells the players not to embarass their jerseys by losing, then I would suggest that winning has become THE end and not the means.

Winning at all costs--placing aside the values we want to teach our children-- is simply too expensive.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Faustin-

I agree wholeheartedly. Why don't we promote a movie called, "Facing the Giants". It too is about a High School football team and its coach, which the story line is very different. In fact, it promotes a reliance on God and the outcome of that total trust. It would be a great movie for all of our MCPS families to see.

Anonymous said...

Faustin, I too agree with your assessment of the Hoover Football program. No child should have to endure such. I however dont beleive that the Hoover parents and faculty are embarrassed by the show. One must remember these people are not actors. Their football coach has been bullying and belittling the Hoover players for years. This is everyday life for them. Sadly, I am afraid the only time this football community will feel any shame or embarrassement is when their beloved team starts losing ball games. ......For a totally different look at football and life in general, I would like to recommend "Facing the Giants". What an awesome message this movie delivers. Check it out yourself, it is showing at the Rave. To see a trailor, go to www.facingthegiants.com

Anonymous said...

Faustin,

Your words are no surprise to the many that watched you carelessly handle the athletics program over the years that you have been at the helm. Interesting how you got so involved and so much got done when YOUR kids got old enough to be participate. Where was that in the early 90's when Catholic had the best team ever. Catholic now has a band....isn't it interesting you have a kid who plays in the band. For 50 years no one would organize a band and now...since your kid wanted to play, it all of the sudden happens. Your misunderstanding of motivation on the football field is exactly why you don't agree with the MTV show. Hoover High has put out numerous college players and none that were good enough were denied a scholarship. It is all about getting the best out of the kid. I would need a note pad to list all the names I was called and chewed out when I graced the field AT Catholic. Until you've coached and until you know what your talking about you need to leave the athletics to the people that know how to handle them and you stay in the school building where you belong. Is there any coalation to the fact that Catholic has not fielded a high caliber team since 1990....hmmm...the year you started your tenure? Check yourself before you try and wreck someone else!

Anonymous said...

I read with some amusement the comments left by the person in the post above this one. There is no way chewing a child out is going to make them the best they can be. I agree Football is a wonderful avenue for teaching life's lessons. One does not need to be "called out" or "chewed out" to learn them...............Also, I would think being the best you can be would involve taking ownership for expressed opinions. ... Perhaps this is what happens when a person is called out and chewed out enough. They learn to coward down, hide behind the name "anonymous" If they dont talk face to face with the person they obviously have such issues with, they dont run the risk of being "called out". They dont have to stand and defend their harsh words. Being called out,chewed out and called enough names to fill a note pad does not bring out the best in a person, it only teaches fear........Of course, this is only my opinion, and if not accepting ownership of opinions is good enough for a person who has had the best brought out in them, then it is sure good enough for me. Sign me "Anonymous".

Anonymous said...

Obviously from your post you have no idea about football, nor the coaching aspect of it. You must have been in the band or a cheerleader. Hoover has a very strict coach...which has won the last 5 of 6 state titles. Pretty impressive in my book. Could it be that his coaching and ways are working? Could it be that his strict discipline ways are enough to bring out the best in the kids?Maybe you should watch games a little more closely on the sideline, then you can see the strict policy and discipline that goes on. Plenty of chewing out going on! There is nothing new about a coach chewing a player out and getting his full attention by it. It happened when I played, it happened when my dad played, and it happens today. GET OVER IT! My whole point in my first message was...Faustin knows nothing about football coaching, he knows nothing about what it takes to get the best out of kids on the field, he knows nothing about what it takes to be the best a team can be. He simply wants to throw a judgement on someone when he has no right to. Faustin wants to act all "into" the sports aspect but once his kids are grown and gone...he no longer will support, no longer will sink the funds into the programs, he no longer will act as if the athletics programs are important. With that being the case I wanted to point out to him that he should stay in the classroom, hire a coach to do the job, and stay out of the business of passing judgement on a coach who has a record of producing exceptional athletes and winning state championships! He has no expertise in this area at all and should not pretend he does. As for your anonymous comment, I have nothing to hide and nothing to gain by signing my name....as I noticed you finessed your comments to allow you not to post your name as well.

Anonymous said...

Goodness, I think all of the "chewing out" you recieved on the football field has left you with anger issue's. While it is true that the football program has not won a state championship, there are other athletic programs that have. For example Basketball, (99 and 2000), I beleive Faustin was at the helm then. Hummmmm, none of his kids were on either of those teams.................I do have a question for you......during the time you were getting "chewed out" and learning to be the best you could be, did Catholic win any state championsips?................I really have enjoyed this playful banter with you, but I am done with it now. What you are saying about Football is just wrong. There is more to it than just the w/l record................I am sorry that you missed it while you were a player and I am sorry you havent been able to figure it out since.

Jeff Downes said...

This is certainly some interesting reading. As a football coach at Catholic from 1985 to 2002, I have seen some successful coaching and leadership styles and some not so successful styles. I think the common denominator amongst all of them has been the passion and deep desire to do what is in the best interest of the students/players. While it is inevitable that disagreements will occur, I hope the anonymous writers and Faustin know that most of the Catholic family are very proud of the football program past and present. We are on the right track for continued success. I miss being a part of the daily efforts toward that end. However, I know that whether you are a player from the past championship teams, the 1979 team, the 1989 team, the Capitol City Conference Champs of 1995, or the current team, you cannot have ill feelings for a program that you have poured blood, sweat and tears into.Let's keep focused on making Catholic an institution we can all be proud of. We are Catholic not Hoover High. Go Knights !

Lesley Wilkinson said...

I agree with Jeff, Catholic's football program is not the same as Hoover's. I am glad for many different reasons. My 10 year old son is playing football for his 4th year. He cant wait until he is able to wear a Catholic jersey. He is proud of the school his sisters, grandparents, and numerouse cousins have graduated from. He doesnt have a clue about their win/loss record. He knows that in football there will always be a winner and a loser as far as the score board goes. Just because his team doesnt win the game that in no way makes him a loser. As long as he gives 110% and plays a clean ball game, then he will be the best that he can be. I beleive these are the values Catholic is trying to teach. He does NOT need somebody chewing him out, he is his own worst critic. Does he enjoy not winning, absolutely not. He like every other person would like to win everyball he plays in, but in the real world that is not going to happen. It doesnt mean he is any less because of it. ... I would also like to comment on what Anonymous said concering Faustin and his desire or lack of to pour money into the athletic programs. Faustin is only one player on a team of many who make budget decisions. He does have a voice (as he should) in the decision making process, however, he does not make these desisions alone. Truthfully, I dont beleive he would want to. On the local level things must go through planning committees and financial council approvals, etc. Most decision have to be approved through the Archdiocise in Mobile. The statement that because one of Faustins kids wanted to play in the band it "all the sudden happens" is incorrect at best. Check out the Catholic High School web site. You can see the time line and how many years it has taken to get the latest additions to the High school completed. In closing, there is so much more to Cathoic High School than just winning and losing football games. It is a community of family and friends that I am very proud to be associated with. Wheather they win or lose,I like my little boy, cant wait until he is able to wear a Catholic jersey.
....................GO KNIGHTS!..................

Faustin said...

The point in the article was that building a winning program (which I admire) isn't the measure of a successful football program--rather, it's what kind of people the program produces. High school athletic programs and coaches are an extension of the mission of the entire school, not separate entities with unique purposes, to be "left alone by admin" any more than the cafeteria workers, teacher, custodial staff or Booster Club ought to be "left alone" IF those groups or people behaving in a manner inconsistent with that mission.

It isn't an either-or. It isn't "either be soft and lose" or "be a SOB and win". There are excellent examples of coaches who build competitive, state championship programs who also model class and insist on class behavior in their players--Steve Savarese, from McGill, former coach at Daphne who won a 6A championship there--and here locally, John Tatum from Montgomery Academy--are but two examples.

Finally, as the other commenter noted, I think my critic both overestimates my "power" as principal and devalues the contribution and commitment of our Board and parent leaders. The master plan was proposed by the Board to the bishop in 1995, who approved the plan. The fund-raising was done by a team of parents in a capital campaign, and through an assessment of all K-12 families. The point is, it's been a team effort up and down the line.

I am always open to constructive criticism. If my critic would like to meet with me, I'd be happy to do so--he can email me at F_Weber@knights.pvt.k12.al.us privately, and we can set something up.

Anonymous said...

I believe we all forget the value of both sport and education here. Hoover is a program that can't be matched by our own small school vision. Yes, all we see is the football part that MTV is showing of Hoover and the boys and girls that take part. But, have you noticed the parents involved with the show. Parents watching practice, asking their child this and that. What about the education part, do we know the academic side of Hoover. No, because all we see is the Football portion. Isn't that what the program is about anyway. Coach Probst reminds me of Bobby Knight in a sense he is trying to get the most out of his athletes. And I am a big Bobby Knight fan. Especially if you look at his graduation rate and the programs he has developed, but nobody looks at the success his student athletes have in the classroom. The just see a Maniac coach yelling and taunting his players. Old school is what it is. Schools have lost that because standards that have to be met, good coaches are hard to find because of parents don't like their little Johnny being yelled at. As a parent, past educator and coach I have been on both ends. So, I see where both sides are coming from.
Every athlete I have ever coached has been a good student and I would say 80% of those athletes have had a chance to continue their playing careers athletically and academically after High School. The other 20% went on academically. This is something I preach to my own children. If athletics do not help you, then let your academics help you continue. Yet we have failed to look at the academic side of the story. Are the Hoover athletes well educated, they must be, if they are passing the NCAA clearing house to get into college to play sports at the upper division levels. Look at the whole picture before criticizing the coach, parent, and administrators. Remember, it is easy to be a sideline coach in the stands, but when you get on the floor or playing field it is a whole new ballgame. Believe me, I see parents coaching from the sideline at our school all the time. As a coach if I saw one of my athletes parents trying to get them to do something else other than what i told them, I will not hesitate to pull the athlete from the floor, grab the parent and turn the coaching over to them especially in mid-game which has happened before.

Anonymous said...

No way that "80% of those athletes had a chance to continue their playing careers". No prep school in the country has rates that high. No way was every athlete you coached a GOOD student....there had to be mediocre ones from time to time and some bad students mixed in. Don't use statistics that simply aren't true.

Anonymous said...

If you would like to know, the players I coached were female. During my 7 years of coaching I had 1 girl who struggled a little which is one out of many. Why, because I stressed academics over athletics. They just happened to excell at both. Plus, they went to a very good public school not located in Alabama.

Anonymous said...

Dude, like no offense man, but Hoover High is amazing and I think it's sweet that MTV did a show on them. And in regard to the point you brought up about that show being a soap opera, I have no idea what kind of world high school kids live in, but basically our lives are soap operas with all the drama and stupid stuff that goes on. I think that MTV's Two-A-Days perfectly depicts what real high school is all about and what the real world is all about too. It's not some fairy tale where everyone's happy and loves each other and everyone's respectful of people's feelings. Two-A-Days is exactly what high school and high school football is all about. Long live Coach Propst and long live Hoover High School's dynasty babyy. umm yeah and about it depicting that being hot, atheletic and good looking that is all the really matter man.

hope you change your mind about two-a-days.

Anonymous said...

To whom this may concern,

I am currently a junior at Montgomery Catholic and a double-letterman. I am thoroughly disappointed with our '06 campaign in which we maintained a record of 6-4 and had Catholic's playoff birth in over a decade. It is simply unacceptable how Catholic celebrates mediocrity that way it does. The season ended disgustingly as we suffered an annihilating defeat at the hands of Geneva High School. Do I agree with all of Coach Propst's methods? No. Do I believe he is a great high school football coach? Yes, His teams in years past have been labeled as a "dynasty." Their five state championships in the past 6 years is quite impressive. Hoover was not the powerhouse that it is currently, prior to the arrival of Coach Proust. Propst seems to always get the best out of each individual player and at Catholic that remains to be a problem. I believe Propst is doing his job and that is to win football games, the man has a desire to win that makes him come off as a jerk at times, but he does his job which is, as I said, to "win" football games. Catholic's sports program has many problems which have yet to be addressed so I thought I would be so kind as to remind them. Catholic is home to one of the worst weight rooms the world has ever known. The plates are old and rusty, as are the majority of the machines. The bars are warped and smell is almost unbearable. Catholic is consistently bad because it does not get the best out of it's players because we have a poor off-season program which is proven by our lack of strength as a team. As a sophomore I was stronger than the majority of the football team ... including the upperclassmen at that time. We have a spectacular field house it is..... oh wait, disregard that because we don't have a field house. We don't even have lockers in the boy's poor excuse for a locker room. I don't see why it is even referred to as a lockers. I was under the impression that locker rooms had lockers not cubbies that you have in kindergarden. Our offense is the Wing-T, and that is simply not "cutting the mustard." What has allowed the survival of mankind is our ability to adapt. The Wing-T is awful, because we don't have the players to run it effectively. We should work on that for next season. Last but not least, I think a player's amount of playing time should be determined by his ability, work ethic, and desire to win. Not where you stand with the coaches. I for one and appalled with the favoritism displayed by the coaching staff here. So unless that is corrected Catholic's football program will never come close to prominence. I believe I was unjustly sat on the bench this year after doing everything that was asked of me and doing it well. That just proves my point that it really does not matter your talent level or work ethic. All that matters is how much the coaches like you. No wonder sub-par seasons have become part of Catholic tradition. Many of my peers are embarrassed that they attend this school. I have one season left and I plan to leave my mark. Please consider what I have just said because I speak with first hand knowledge unlike anyone else who has posted their comments. I want to come back to Catholic in years to come and say "That's right, that is my alma mater."


PS: I have been cussed at as a player at Catholic too, it is not just the coaching staff at Hoover.

Anonymous said...

The kids at Hoover, the ones who play and the ones who dont are very lucky to be around winning. The yelling and the swearing will mean nothing to them in the years to come. The success and really learning the meaning of the word team is what they will remember. Coach Probst is a great Coach and Leader of young men.

Anonymous said...

Hey guys guess what? Arguing on the internet is like the Special Olympics. Even if you win, you're still retarded.

Grow up.

If you have a complaint with Mr. Weber then why don't you do something about it instead of replying to their weblog?

Seriously.