Pink Bellies 'Exposed' By Valley Press



The "pink belly" controversy of last week has failed to create diverseness in the Mesa Mountain View High School football program.

After television station KPHO-TV (Channel 5) and print journalists "exposed" the long time tradition at the school, the Toros program and coach Bernie Busken, were ripe for criticism from skeptics who chose to jump at the opportunity.

Journalists leaped, administrators bounded, but players did not.

Late last week, writers in Valley newspapers -- many who have no coaching or playing experience themselves -- chose to question the Mountain View program that is on an 38-game winning streak.

Toro players turned aside the controversy and focused Friday evening on a 19-0 win over 5A 12th ranked Mesa Red Mountain.

At least one know-nothing sports journalist wrote the MV coaching staff would not suffer any "lingering consequences" -- even three openly defied the school district by continuing to allow the practice of "pink bellies."

Later, the Mesa school administration suspended two coaches for a playoff game and docked their pay for two days.

If taking hard-earned paychecks away from already underpaid, overworked, dedicated coaches and suspending them from a playoff is not "lingering, consequences," what are?

Bet the family farm, some sports journalist has spent far too much time locked in an office in front of a keyboard and not enough hours on the practice field working to mold the character of our youth.

What is it
The "pink belly" controversy is a tough one for outsiders to comprehend.

Most school administrators, who spend minimal time on the field or in the practice room, publicly label allowing the practice "insubordination," because it's against most district's policies.

Throw in the fact the "press" had hold of the story in Mesa and punitive measures have become the administrative way to defuse the situation.

"Pink bellies" -- in yesteryear were called "red bellies."

It involves youngsters thumping the belly of another as a follicle punishment or indoctrination.

Brothers do it to brothers, teammates to teammates.

It seems foolish in print, but it's is a rite of passage that many teenagers, not just football players, grudgingly looked forward to.

In today's society we have group sharing and "touchy feelies" to boost the self worth of our youth.

In simpler times, red-bellies, up-downs, sprints, lunges, push-ups and gut-wrenching hard worth led to the euphoria of accomplishment.

The practice of red bellies, and others like it, have obviously outlived their worth.

Teachers and coaches are constantly reminded to "not touch your kids" when a friendly jostle or a kindly touch might make a youngster's day.

Unenlightened journalists, administrators and parents are quick to use just such occurrences as reasons to skirmish with well-meaning coaches and teachers.

Mountain View -- and Round Valley and Winslow before them -- are two of the pockets that continued to cling to some of traditions of the storied past.

But those have all come to an end.

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