Cypress Bay Florida football's Mark Guandolo has been suspended from his team for two weeks after video went viral on Sunday of the coach slapping his quarterback, Lucas Tellefsen. Tellefsen had just overthrown his receiver by a wide margin—even for high school standards—and ESPN cameras picked up the ensuing altercation. The announcing crew did not comment on the event. Tellefsen continued playing in the 38-14 loss. And, today, Tellefsen's dad is asking that no further punishment be levied against Guandolo. "It’s a non-issue," he said. "We’re 110 percent fine with this. We don’t want anything to happen to Coach G."
When things like this happen—and they happen several times a year—they always tend to serve as an interesting litmus test for guys. One side will say football is a man's game, a violent game, and the tap on Tellefsen's helmet is a feather hitting your toe when compared to an outside linebacker crumpling you from the blind side. The other side says that coaches should be less inclined to act like a dictatorial Bear Bryant wannabe, and instead treat their players with more respect. (Many times, the litmus test is also political. The headline on Glenn Beck's site The Blaze says, "HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL COACH SUSPENDED FOR WHAT?" )
The answer might be somewhere in the middle. Did Guandolo hit Tellefsen too hard? Probably. Should he have been suspended? Probably not. Would he have been in trouble if ESPN hadn't been on the sideline? Christ, no.
Does this, then, stink of a school trying to cover its ass, rather than actually addressing the difficult questions of what constitues coaching abuse? That's for you to decide.