Rich Central coach Brian Craig. l Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 3, 2012 6:22AM
That has to be the universal reaction to Casey Toner’s story about a suburban Chicago high school girls varsity basketball coach’s recent foray into sexually suggestive self-help writing.
Once you collect your jaw off the floor, that is.
But hold on to that jaw — there’s more.
Other teachers at Rich Central High School in Olympia Fields knew about the book, obviously — another teacher helped edit head coach Bryan Craig’s explicit self-published 60-page tract, It’s Her Fault, which contains, among its attempts to share his sexual wisdom and supposed knowledge of women and their ways, graphic passages on the vaginal qualities of women of various races, examples of which cannot be published in a family newspaper.
After news broke in the Southtown Star, the tenured teacher, who also acts as a guidance counselor, was put on leave. Craig resigned as head girls basketball coach on Friday night. Why did it take media attention to do this?
Let us talk for a moment about freedom of speech.
The United States Constitution has a First Amendment, which is rightly cherished by all Americans. What the First Amendment does is order that the government “shall make no law” regarding the establishment of religion or “abridging the freedom of speech.”
It does not also absolve citizens from the consequences of their speech, however.
This detail flies by many people.
“He has his constitutional right to free speech,” Rich Township High School District 227 Supt. Donna Simpson Leak said, at first, before sounder heads prevailed and Craig was suspended.
How could it be otherwise? How could Craig and how many others at Rich Central have thought this was OK? That he could go on coaching girls basketball while peddling sex tips on Amazon?
Yes, writing salacious literature is not illegal. Nor is being a bouncer at a strip club.
But the education and counseling of children, the coaching of youth teams, is not just another job. There is a higher standard of behavior here, and given the stark example of Penn State, where a former member of the football coaching staff was permitted to rape children on school property while officials looked the other way, you’d think that protecting children would be foremost in mind of any responsible school official. What were they thinking?
Shouldn’t any decently run school be sensitive to the coach of a girls team who is selling quasi-pornographic “advice” where he brags about his conquests and discusses penis size? Isn’t that a red flag?
It’s the school’s job now to separate him from kids — they should have done so immediately, without requiring the spotlight of media attention. At least he had the decency to resign as coach.
If he’s the greatest coach in the world, the greatest counselor ever, and the girls want to protest that he has been ill-served, they should do so. If parents want to insist that the man who urges young women to be promiscuous, who brags of having five sexual partners at the same time, who wrote “the easiest kill for a man is through the young lady with low self-esteem,” should have access to their daughters, well, then that is their right too. Perhaps that sentence is meant to be cautionary to young women — it is within the realm of possibility.
But somehow I doubt it. My guess is that stepping down as coach will not be enough, that even if the school is slow to fire Craig, parents will push to demand it and wonder why it wasn’t done sooner. A man has the right to write what he likes, but the public has a right to draw away in disgust. Bryan Craig has a wife and kids, and perhaps he just didn’t think through the consequences of his actions. He is thinking about them now, I’ll bet. But he has not only insulted the girls he coached and supposedly cared about, but he has done a disservice to all his fellow coaches and teachers, who view their students and athletes with genuine, chaste affection, not as a harem of “the fairer sex” whose private parts can be speculated upon in print.
Even if the book is just spectacularly bad judgment, even if Craig apologizes to everyone he has so obviously betrayed, he has leered his way out of a job.
It doesn’t take much. A touch. A look. An inappropriate word. Or, in this case, a book of crude innuendo and sex tips. He has a right to publish it. Don’t the girls of Rich Central have a right to be kept away from him? One would hope.