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I know better than that

The opinion article that I wrote and that appeared on page 4 of this week’s edition of the Courier (Discipline works-just look at Hazlehurst football) has caused some stir in the Hazlehurst Indian community.  Former coaches contacted me on Thursday and were more than a little perturbed about the tone of the article and some of the generalities that were contained in it.  I even received a few negative messages on Twitter from a couple of fans.
While I was attempting to congratulate current head coach Randal Montgomery and his staff, the players on the team and give credit to everyone who rallied around the Indians during their recent 3A state title run, I took a misstep and ventured off into an area that I shouldn’t have gone.  I made an unprofessional mistake of going in a slightly negative direction, straying away from keeping things positive.
A portion of the article states:
“He’s done it by instilling belief in his players, through discipline that some say was not present before Montgomery cam. . . He and his staff probably had an uphill climb when dealing with some of the disciplinary problems that were present when they arrived.”
This was a general statement that was not aimed at any former members of the coaching staff or anyone in the previous or present athletic administration. At best it was Yellow Dog Journalism 101, as I failed to get the full picture for myself of the Indian football program and relied on hearsay and innuendo.  Nonetheless, these two sentences were poorly written shouldn’t have been in the article. 
Perhaps what I should have relayed in article was that Montgomery and his staff did a fine job of helping the players re-focus on having a successful season, the goal of which was to return to the state 3A title game and win it-which they did-after the heartbreaking loss in the 3A finals in 2011-the initial direction I intended for the article to go.
What I wrote wasn’t fair to any former coaches, players or athletic administrators, nor was it fair to Coach Montgomery and his staff and current players.  Though I did not attend Mississippi State to earn a degree in journalism, I know better than that. Perhaps I can take a lesson from the headline of the article, “Discipline works. . .” and apply it to my own writing. 
I appreciate all the feedback from those who contacted me after the article was published.  Your comments have compelled me to take a step back and assess my writing (and people) skills more thoroughly.  My apologies to those who were affected by some of the content of last week’s article.

Joe Coates, publisher

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