By Scott Buttram
Let’s get something straight. Underground t-shirts designed and printed by a handful of Hewitt students had no affect on the outcome of the football game between rivals Clay Chalkville and Hewitt Trussville. If you believe otherwise, you need to restart your education of the sport.
The much ballyhooed t-shirts were given prime time exposure in an editorial planted in the middle of The Birmingham News prep sports section on Saturday morning in a move every bit as inappropriate as the shirts themselves.
The Birmingham News writer also served as the guest speaker at the CCHS football banquet last year, raising concerns of a possible biased view of Friday’s non-event. He reported last spring on a vote by the Trussville Board of Education before the board meeting even started. About a half hour before the vote took place. He did not attend the meeting. Maybe Miss Cleo could have a second career as sports writer
The underground shirts, as students refer to them, have a long tradition in this rivalry. They have been printed by students from both sides and they are usually tasteless, which, evidently, has also become a tradition. It is a tradition that needs to end.
The shirts were not seen at Hewitt Trussville on Friday because school officials were alerted on Thursday that the shirts would be distributed at an off campus location that afternoon. School officials went to that location and they laid down the law. “If they wore the shirts to school, they wouldn’t be going to school,” said Hewitt principal Tim Salem. “If they wore them to the game, they wouldn’t be allowed in the game.”
The shirts were not seen in Jack Wood Stadium on Friday night because the only two students that attempted to wear them were not permitted in until they were appropriately dressed.
Could the shirt have served as bulletin board material for the Cougars? Possibly. But every coach in football will tell you that that sort of motivation lasts until the first hit. CCHS took the Huskies apart in the second half, not in the first two minutes of the game.
Anyone that believes Jerry Hood is winning with t-shirts or smoke and mirrors hasn’t paid attention. He’s arguably one of the state’s top coaches and he lines up winners like Lionel lines up trains. He doesn’t need a t-shirt and neither do his talented players.
According to the editorial in Birmingham News, the Clay players told the Hewitt players in the handshake line after the game, “You should not have made the shirt.”
If true, that would be disappointing. If rubbing salt in a wound is wrong, as the shirts did, then rubbing salt in the wound is wrong no matter what the justification may be. Besides, the Hewitt players didn’t make any shirts.
The post game interaction between players is for one thing and one thing only. It is a chance for players to show humility in victory and graciousness in defeat.
The t-shirt story should have never landed on the sports section of the state’s largest newspaper and it certainly shouldn’t have been used to tarnish the reputation of an entire student body and football team. The story should have been used as it was in Trussville schools and in Clay schools as a teachable moment.