And now a word to you fathers. Don't make your children angry by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction approved by the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4 NLT)
Pat Dyer must not be too bad a high school football coach. He is the head coach for Macon County High School. His MCHS team was a Class 3A state semifinalist last year. He was selected to coach the defensive secondary in the Tennessee East/West All-Star game this year. As he pointed out at the time, being selected to help coach an all-star team is a "big honor."
This hasn't been one of Coach Dyer's best seasons. His MCHS Tigers didn't make the playoffs. They didn't even have a winning record for the season. You know how testy that can make diehard sports fans – at pro or pee wee level.
Maybe Coach Dyer didn't do his best job this year. Maybe he made some bad personnel decisions. Maybe he called some bonehead plays. Criticize him for those things if you are a Tigers fan, but not for his priorities.
Dyer missed two games his team played this year — on Week 7 and Week 10 of the schedule – for the sake of his son. Matt Dyer is a high school senior at Smith County High School. He is a fullback for that school's football team. And he is working through those once-in-a-lifetime events that go with being a senior.
Coach Dyer didn't skip his own team's games to see his son play football for the past three years. He didn't send his team onto the field without their head coach to see Matt's senior games. But he did elect to be there for his son's Homecoming and Senior Night games. He put being a father over being a coach.
An angry contingent of MCHS parents has come down hard on the coach. They started calling school board members to tell them what should happen to him. They are parents! And they want their kids put first!
On two nights over four seasons of high school sports, Pat Dyer put his son first. "It was a tough call as a coach. It was an easy call as a father," sportswriter Jeff Lockridge said of the flap. "When a player's name is announced over the speakers and he walks to midfield on Senior Night, his dad belongs by his side."
Coach, most of your team and its fans likely admire your decision. The ones who don't will get over it. But Matt will never forget the choice you made because you love him. Thanks for reminding the rest of us to get our priorities right.