Take a breath before judging the Hinsdale South situation
In a heated emotional moment, it's often best to just take a deep breath.
But that's not the world we live in.
We're all about hot takes and instant analysis. Judge now, apologize later.
Last month's developments at Hinsdale South High School, where a parent filed a lawsuit to get her son reinstated to the varsity basketball team, was a stark reminder of how not to approach an emotionally raw situation.
To recap, Erin Savage sued Hinsdale School District 86 and several employees after her son, senior Brendan Savage, was cut from the team despite being an all-West Suburban Gold selection the previous two seasons.
The suit alleges - remember that word, alleges - Brendan Savage was cut by coach Michael Belcaster in retaliation for a bullying complaint lodged against the former coach, Michael Moretti.
Once the lawsuit became public knowledge, the story took off like a jet. It's still roaming around up there, ready to buzz the media tower with the next news nugget.
Radio, television and newspapers (yes, including us) swarmed in to report what happened and why.
And there's the problem. None of us really knows.
This is a lawsuit. After covering school districts the last three years in the news department, I can tell you administrators will not talk about stuff like this.
So what you ended up with last week was a flurry of audio, visual and print analysis based on one side of the story. Erin Savage, understandably standing up for her son, spoke plenty in his defense and against the adults she believes wronged him.
But just because she has the microphone doesn't make it the absolute truth. That's where I think much of the analysis fell apart.
I listened to radio segments and television interviews with Erin Savage and was stunned by comments from announcers who have zero direct knowledge of the situation but were more than willing to play judge and jury.
I don't know Moretti or Belcaster, certainly not enough to defend them. I also don't know enough to demonize them, which is what I heard too often from others last week.
I'll say this ... a mistake was made by cutting Brendan Savage from the team. Unless he violated the district's code of conduct or made some egregious error, there's little excuse for excluding him.
Regardless of how a coach feels about a player, patience and guidance are needed instead of pushing the player aside.
Brendan Savage returned to practice last week and played last Friday against Downers Grove South, but the lawsuit remains in place. According to court records, the school district has yet to respond.
The response by the media baffled me. Talk radio hosts saying they wouldn't want their kids anywhere near these coaches and suggesting they should lose their teaching jobs ... based on allegations in a plaintiff's lawsuit and with no knowledge of the defense.
It was a mess to hear and see. Meanwhile, District 86 is in its own mess right now.
News broke Wednesday that Hinsdale Central girls basketball coach Erin Navolio and two assistants abruptly resigned. After the Red Devils canceled a game, officials said the school's athletic director would coach the team.
One more thing on the pile.
As for the Hinsdale South story, I guarantee it's not over.
A response is coming, eventually, from the other side. Maybe through a countersuit, or maybe through the media. Maybe through the teachers union, which can't be happy.
It's coming, so let's all work on our deep breathing skills.