Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Sportsman of the Month: June

Sportsman of the Month - Ed Thomas

If you know me at all, and you know my writing fairly well, then you know that I have something to say about just everything; in most cases, I'll write plenty about any topic. This is one rare issue where I have little to say, and everything to defer to others on the subject.

I didn't know Ed Thomas. Never even heard of him before last week. And I'm still new to the high school football circuit; I haven't spent enough time around big-time preps programs to truly appreciate what coaches mean to their schools and communities. So I'm not going to B.S. you all by extending a blind eulogy in public like this.

Rather, I implore you to read the following stories for perspective from those in the know.

Former player arrested in connection with shooting death of football coach - June 24, 2009
Column remembering Ed Thomas - June 25, 2009
More news comes out about Mark Becker's drug usage - June 25, 2009
Ed Thomas Memorial page on Facebook
Twitter reaction to Ed Thomas' murder
Sports Illustrated set to put Ed Thomas on the cover
Officials look into Becker's hospital release - July 1, 2009

Ed Thomas coached 34 years at Parkersburg and won well over 80 percent of his games. His teams went to the playoffs 19 times - unthinkable to sustain that kind of success - and won a pair of state titles. Parkersburg has four linemen in the NFL - I'm not sure all of Colorado's high schools have four. But more importantly than anything else, Ed Thomas led the charge to rebuild a tornado-ridden town, when many cranky old football coaches would go all prima-donna on everyone and demand that his pretty little football field be cleaned up.

I don't know Ed Thomas, and I can't ever compare what he's meant to Iowa. I honestly can't think of a coach in Wisconsin or Colorado who is like that state's Ed Thomas. I don't know why this deranged player did what he did, and I don't know why he was even on the streets in the first place. I don't even know how this affects my current stance on gun control (stance being, there should be more of it.)

Here's what I do know: this should open the argument. If you read the comments on the QC Times story - or the hundreds of comments on the ESPNRise story - you'll notice that most people are more interested in kneejerk reactions to why Mark Becker had a gun than actually honoring Ed Thomas' life. That's natural, and it should open up the discussion.

Because Parkersburg, Iowa, high schools, and Americana lost a good football man and a better person on June 24. One can only hope two things: that he did not die in vain if any sort of changes are made to gun security; and that people are inspired to live a valued life like Ed Thomas.

Past SOTM winners:
May - Calvin Borel
April - Crazylegs runners/walkers
March - Team Japan baseball
February - Rafael Nadal
January - Larry Fitzgerald


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