The one option left in Don Bosco’s playbook

When things go wrong, those with the least power usually suffer the most. Football players at the bottom of a pileup have the most weight pressing down on them, and can’t get up unless others do so first.

This holds true with the numerous scandals involving football coach and occasional mayor Rob Ford’s inability to keep his professional and volunteer responsibilities separate. Most recently, Ford and police together requested that a special TTC bus be sent to pick up the mayor’s football team after a game ended early. The fallout has affected the many parties involved to varying degrees.

The players, high school students with the least power of anyone involved, have taken a lot of heat. When one player bragged on Twitter that the team had benefited from their own private TTC bus because “our coach is the mayor,” a Vigilante Rapid Response Team sent him some nasty messages. That’s nothing, however, compared to what they’ve had to endure from their coach. Ford has taken numerous opportunities to disparage the players and their families, saying that they don’t have supportive parents or families (of course they do), that they are difficult to control (and that only he can control them), that the state of leadership within the black community is so pathetically lacking that no one has done more for black youth than this white part-time coach.

It’s hard to see what the school, Don Bosco, is accused of having done wrong either. Yet the school board has received so many angry phone calls that they’re considering reimbursing the TTC for the cost of the bus they never asked for in the first place. The board has more power than its students, but less than those who actually ordered the bus.

The TTC is also taking all sorts of abuse and doing everything it can to set the record straight. TTC CEO Andy Byford, already faced with the challenge of trying to mend his organization’s damaged reputation, has gone so far as to publicly scold the mayor by saying that he shouldn’t have called him for what Byford considers to be a personal matter and that he should not do so again. (His frustration is understandable; all the TTC did was respond to an urgent police request. They have no choice but to take such requests seriously.)

Those who instigated this whole mess and continue to hold the most power are saying very little. The police will not explain with any clarity what justified making the “urgent” request that resulted in two buses being diverted during rush hour, leaving riders stranded in the rain. The mayor will not explain why he treated Byford like a glorified taxi dispatcher. Neither will explain why their versions of events contradict those of the school board, which maintains there was no apparent need for special treatment. After all, who’s going to do anything about it? The school doesn’t have authority over the mayor of Toronto, nor can they easily accuse the police of lying about how things went down.

But even those with less power are not powerless. (After all, at the bottom of a pileup, one of Schrödinger’s players is holding the football.) There is an obvious source of these never ending headaches, and a solution. One man, a volunteer, has done a lot of good work, but is now causing more trouble than he’s worth. Every organization that depends on volunteers knows that as difficult as it is, sometimes you just have to say goodbye. It’s time to call that play.

Don Bosco can’t fire the mayor. But they can fire the coach.

2 thoughts on “The one option left in Don Bosco’s playbook

  1. Drae

    I’ve been thinking about this for quite some time. At what point does the school say that the constant controversy is harming its reputation? I knew nothing about the school before the last few years, and honestly, my current impression is quite negative now. I’m sure it’s a great school, but what other conclusions can I draw when this is all I hear?

    In the wake of the scandal, Penn State removed the statue of Joe Paterno from campus. Granted the allegations there were exponentially more serious, but it is proof that erasing a legacy – when it becomes more trouble than its worth – is not without precedent.

  2. Victoria

    I’ve been thinking about this too. As a parent I would be really unhappy if someone working or volunteering at a school talked about my son and family the way Rob Ford does. I would also be very upset that money earmarked for education would be used to pay for the busses that the police ordered – with or without Rob Ford’s influence.

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