Senioritis: Constructive criticism made me who I am today


Last week, Shawn Abel, a Memphis high school football coach and AP calculus teacher was fired after his profanity-ridden tirade at his players for not being a cohesive unit on the gridiron.

And of course, it follows that one of the players thought-it-not-robbery to record his coach’s rant and post it on Youtube.

After being heard by the wrong ears, the coach decided to resign, presumably before he was asked to leave.

Here’s just some of what was on the tape: “That’s what’s been our problem all d*** year. It isn’t age, it isn’t injury, it isn’t officials,” and “It’s individuality.  Go f***ing play golf.”

Anyone who has ever played a sport or been a participant in anything that requires the slightest bit of passion has heard worse. I can recall several occasions where I’ve been profanely grilled by two of my high school band directors.

As recently as a couple weeks ago, I had a professor give me the ugly truth on why I received the lowest grade on a test in the class. He, in a very matter-of-fact manner, told me in few words that I was an entitled idiot.

And, after rebounding to get one the highest grades in the class on the following test, I realized that, even with his harsh words, he was right.

But it wasn’t until yesterday evening, while tutoring a kid at the FCAT Reading and Homework Club that I came to a startling realization. Generation by generation, our youth are becoming softer.

I swear all I asked the kid to do was finish his homework. Although he managed to finish his work in a puddle of tears, I felt kind of bad.

But after about 10 seconds, I realized that it wasn’t my fault that no one had ever pushed him to do what he was supposed to do.  And, however horrible it may seem, his tears were a sign that I had done a favor.

I came to the startling realization about the “tough love” I received at home, that I honestly hadn’t learned to appreciate until reading this story.

I’ve had coaches and even three band directors who’ve used swear words to get their point across. And not once, even as an unsuspecting child, did I run home crying to mommy.

Why? Because whatever they said to me, however harsh it was, I knew that they only had my best interest at heart. As a then-developing black man, they unselfishly did not want me to end up a statistic.

And today, as I prepare to enter the “real world,” I realize that if it weren’t for people giving me tough love it wouldn’t be in the position I am today. As much as I hate to admit it, hearing harsh, well-intentioned criticism turned me into a healthy, reasonable adult.