Cook: What the TSSAA can never take away

Cook: What the TSSAA can never take away

October 27th, 2011 by David Cook in Opinion Columns

The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association delivered its punishment last week: along with paying a $100 fine, Signal Mountain High School must also write a letter to each of the six schools it previously defeated, acknowledging it played an ineligible student-athlete.

The TSSAA also handed SMHS the bill for all travel costs incurred by TSSAA board members during its trip to Murfreesboro. (Think anyone ordered extra dessert on that ticket?)

The letter will be brief, probably signed by school Principal Tom McCullough. But it makes me wonder: What would happen if other folks involved in this story hacked into the SMHS computers and forged their own letter?

* * * * *

Dear Notre Dame High,

We vacate our win from earlier this season. The TSSAA is never to be questioned. The TSSAA is always right. Don't ever challenge us ... I mean ... them.

Like it or leave it,

- B. Childress, on behalf of SMHS.

* * * * *

Dear Grundy County High,

We vacate our win. Since the cost of four football helmets would supply us with more art supplies than we've seen all year, we have one idea where you can spend the $100.

Don't forget about us,

- Every art teacher in Hamilton County, on behalf of SMHS.

* * * * *

Dear East Hamilton High,

We vacate our win. One way this problem could be solved in the future is through metro government. Think anyone in your area would be interested?

Onward and upward,

- R. Littlefield, on behalf of SMHS.

* * * * *

Dear Tyner High,

We must ... vac ... vac ... vac ... FORGET IT! I'm not writing this #@$& letter!

- B. Price, on behalf of SMHS.

* * * * *

Dear Bledsoe High,

Passes, punts, catches, hits!

Our win against you

We vacate!

Runs, jumps, spins, whirls!

This never would have happened

If Tim was a girl!

- Any group of area cheerleaders, on behalf of SMHS.

* * * * *

Dear South Pittsburg High,

We vacate our win from earlier this season. Man, I just wanted to go to school and play some football. I hate this mess.

God bless,

- T. McClendon, on behalf of SMHS.

* * * * *

Dear everyone involved in high school football,

I've known Bill Price for more than two decades. He's a good man. Sure, he cusses like a Mack-trucker and may want to reconsider how many points he puts on the scoreboard, but his players would lie down in the road for him. He's changed lives for the better. So have East Hamilton coach Ted Gatewood, South Pitt's Vic Grider and Tyner's Wayne Turner, and many other area coaches.

They know how much our kids need the transforming power of athletics.

Not winning. But athletics.

Athletics -- not winning -- speak the language of character. Spine. Guts. Heart. Nobility in the face of defeat. Things scoreboards never record.

Athletics can take that bunch of broken-hearted kids on Signal (who've worked so hard) as well as the big-hearted bunch in Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe (who didn't win one game last season) and offer them some redeeming, transforming message.

I hope Tim McClendon grows up to become a teacher and coach. I hope he figures out the pearl of great price that athletics can offer.

Those are the things the TSSAA can never take away.

David Cook can be reached at