The teachers’ strike in the state of Oklahoma reached its fifth day on Friday. And while the show has continued to go on for most of the state’s athletic programs as thousands of teachers march outside the Oklahoma State Capitol to protest a lack of adequate funding in public schools, at least one coach has also walked away from his role as coach.
As The Oklahoman reports, Yukon boys tennis coach Barney Moon has stepped away. And he hopes others follow suit.
“It doesn’t feel morally and ethically right to coach while the walkout is going on,” Moon told The Oklahoman. “I think we are sending the message that athletics are more important than education by continuing to play and practice.
“I think it’s time to walk out on athletics, too.”
It is not a decision that came without much deliberation for Moon. A 22-year veteran teacher, The Oklahoman reports that he polled his colleagues at Yukon as to whether he should continue in his coaching role during the walkout.
The results were a mixed bag, with some saying he should stick with the team and others believing walking away from the post he’s held for 18 years as head tennis coach would send the right message.
He chose the latter, gathering students in his Oklahoma History classroom to tell them he was walking away.
“Hardest thing I’ve ever done in coaching,” Moon said. “I just let them know that this is not easy, but I don’t feel right.”
He said the players showed him full support.
“This is our time of the year,” Moon said. “To know they supported me and their teachers meant the world.”
Yukon was scheduled to appear in a tournament at Bixby on Saturday and then at Mustang on Tuesday. Moon told The Oklahoman that he left it up to the players whether or not they wanted to play without him coaching.
Throughout the state, coaches are likely grappling with the same dilemma that Moon encountered. Doing what is best for the kids is the top priority, but deciding exactly what that is? That is the challenge.
“Obviously, there are things important long term for our players,” Bethany baseball coach Jim Drummond, who is also the school’s Dean of Students, told The Oklahoman earlier this week. “We’re fully behind our peers, but we still have to play our district games because we’re in a limited time period. It’s been challenging for everyone.”
In speaking with The Oklahoman, Moon relayed that he believes the walkout might end sooner if more coaches joined him.
“Who is more vocal than sports fans?” Moon said. “If little Johnny isn’t able to play in his sport, those sports parents would call their representative to tell them they want schools properly funded and teachers and coaches go back to work.”