OP-ED: ‘The Kids are The Victims’; FYFC Board Took Swift Action

FRAMINGHAM – For the past two days, I have been following the very unfortunate story that came out Tuesday about four Framingham Youth Football coaches who used racial slurs in a private group chat amongst themselves. 

Obviously, I found the texts to be disgusting and hurtful. 

I am so angry about this because I, like so many, worked very hard in the program for years to build it up and make it such a success that it was considered one of the best youth football and cheer programs in the Commonwealth. 

I applaud the board’s swift decision to immediately remove the three remaining coaches from the program when these ugly racist texts were revealed. 

Some out there in social media have insinuated that President Jason Smith and the board should’ve somehow known about these texts and were even involved perhaps in some sort of cover-up and conspiracy.  I find these accusations to be extremely unfair and reprehensible themselves.

We all need to take a deep breath and remember that everyone in FYFC is just a parent volunteering their time.  No one gets paid for the hours they dedicate to this program. 

The job of being the President of a youth sports program is thankless and highly stressful. 

When I was President of FYFC, like Jason Smith, I didn’t have a child in the program, and I found that to be advantageous because I could never be accused of being biased towards my own child. 

Football is a particularly passionate sport with a lot of contact and parents tend to get more emotional about it than some other sports.  

Parents complained constantly to me about a lot of things at football and cheer.  It could’ve been anything, practice schedules, lack of playing time, even the position they’re child was playing or why their daughter was a “base” and not a “flier.” 

One day, I even had a parent come to my business to demand that I make his son’s coach play his son at running back and not center. 

It seemed like there was always some kind of drama dealing with parents and coaches.  But we always took every complaint seriously and always took the time to conduct investigations and interview both parties to be fair and to get to the truth because there are always two sides to the story. 

Oddly though, on more than one occasion when a parent lodged a complaint that parent would fail to show up to participate in the dispute resolution process. This appears to be what happened in this case too.

We’ve now learned from Jason’s statement that last year he got only a part of the story from one of the coaches involved. When Jason asked him to come forward and be a part of a full investigation and meet with him, that coach chose not to do so for fear of incriminating himself with his own bad behavior and texts.

I have seen Jason’s leadership skills first hand and watched him lead FYFC always in an open and transparent way.  Jason has always been fair and always did his due diligence and allowed for due process.  

His involvement with coaching and youth sports has been for one reason and one reason only, to provide the children of Framingham a safe place to learn, grow and develop into more complete human beings through the trials and tribulations of competition and sports. 

The Jason Smith I know has always been a person of high moral character who has no tolerance for bullying, racism, antisemitism or prejudice of any kind.  

I commend him for choosing to temporarily step down from the board while the independent investigations are conducted by the Framingham Police, AYF and the Bay State Football league. 

Once complete, I expect Jason and the entire board of FYFC to be fully exonerated from any wrong doing in this terribly unfortunate incident.

I also commend everyone in the program who stepped up to coach the sixth-grade team this week and get them ready for their playoff game this weekend. 

These kids are also victims here. They may not have seen the ugly posts from their coaches, I hope they didn’t, but they do know that their coaches have been removed from the program and will not be on the field with them this weekend.  But these kids are resilient and I’m confident that they’ll remind us all about why youth sports are so great that win or lose, they’ll come together as a team and play hard for one another this weekend.

Chris Connolly

President FYFC 2014-2016

Framingham Source Editor Susan Petroni

Susan Petroni Framingham Source Editor Email: editor@FraminghamSource.com Phone: 508-315-7176

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