[Editor's note: This letter from the father of the Analy High School quarterback follows controversy over the Nov. 23 football game in which El Cerrito High defeated Analy of Sebastopol in the semifinals for the championship of Division III in the North Coast Section. A sports columnist for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat accused the El Cerrito team of unsportsmanlike conduct, and the athletic director of El Cerrito High, George Austin, wrote a response that mentioned the Analy quaterback paying a post-game visit to the El Cerrito locker room. This letter provides more detail about that gesture.]
To the Editor:
I was at the Analy-El Cerrito game. (My son, Darin, played quarterback for Analy this year.) After the game, as Darin exited the visitors locker room, he told me that he had not had a chance to congratulate the other team and that it was important to him to do so before leaving.
He noticed the first El Cerrito player had just emerged from their locker room. He asked me to hold his gear and he walked 30 yards towards that player, extending his arm in hand-shake mode. The El Cerrito player looked surprised and cautious and did not immediately extend his hand. Brief words were exchanged, then a hand-shake.
I returned to conversation with my daughter and her friends. We looked back for Darin a few seconds later but we could not see him anywhere. Five to ten minutes passed and Darin re-emerged from the El Cerrito locker-room, chatting with their quarterback and then the entire Benjamin family. They exchanged phone numbers in case the opportunity arises to get together for a work-out.
Later on, Darin called me from the team bus while they were driving home. I asked him what he was doing while in the El Cerrito locker-room. He told me he simply had a nice chat with a few players and a coach. He also mentioned that before boarding the bus, a policeman strongly reprimanded him for having gone to the El Cerrito locker room.
It was clear to me that congratulating the other team had helped Darin process the emotions of the season-ending (perhaps career-ending) loss.
My personal take is that you find what you look for... Those looking for a fight (a few kids on both teams, a coach or two, the police) can find one. Those looking for a story (one journalist) can find that too. My son went looking to win a football game, but found that the El Cerrito secondary/defense (and some of their offensive play-makers) played faster and better, and were more than worthy of a tip of his cap.
– Eric Newman
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