Why must we always do this?

And so the residual effect is the following:

Criticism of the administration at Montville High School.

Criticism of the football coaches at Stonington High School.

Criticism among the critics, few (if any) of whom know the identities of the people they're criticizing.

Do you know what event precipitated this reincarnation of Spiro Agnew's nattering nabobs of negativism?

A state high school football rushing record by one of our own kids.

That's right. A prestigious, momentous achievement that has earned Montville senior Jeremiah Crowley statewide hosannas.

Just not here.

I know. Nothing I can do about anonymous reader comments. Barn door open, horses galloping like Seattle Slew. Meanwhile, it's thank-you-sir-may-we-have-another every day, as high school kids and their achievements are dragged into the morass.

Progress, apparently, is breaking a state record and reading more than 90 percent negative comments about it.

Let me just say this: It was a privilege to have witnessed Crowley's record the other night. He gained 526 yards and scored seven touchdowns. Crowley limped off the field several times to ice his aching knee. Then he sprinted back on it.

He told the story after about how much he believes the hand of his late father, who died when he was a freshman, guides him. A story with all the great stuff: drama, achievement, sentiment, resilience.

And this wasn't piling on. Montville needed every single inch of the more than quarter-mile of the yardage, rallying several times for a 49-37 victory. This was an instant version of history, right there on some nothing Friday night in September. The great unwritten script again.

How could you possibly glean anything negative from that?

Guess it's easier when you can hide behind anonymity.

Shall we examine?

One social commentator has "an understanding" that Crowley shouldn't have played. "An administrative failure," said a voice in the wind.

Background: Crowley missed Montville's season opening game for what was called a violation of team rules. Crowley lost his temper badly at a preseason scrimmage, directing his displeasure at an official. It merited punishment, beyond the nominal running hills or missing a quarter of the next game. He missed an entire game and was issued strict parameters to follow for the remainder of the season.

"I let my team down, myself down, the coaches down and I embarrassed the school," Crowley said.

That's not enough, apparently. There's an adult out there who wants his pound of flesh. From a high school kid. Makes you want to sing spirituals, doesn't it?

Then there's the Stonington Parental Indulgence Network (SPIN), which appears to be under new and venomous management. A month into the high school season hadn't passed before SPIN went after Dave Walsh, the girls' soccer coach, and A.J. Massengale, the football coach.

Seems A.J.'s football knowledge is as limited as his work ethic.

And those three division championship plaques in the last six years landed on his mantel by falling from a helicopter.

From what other social commentators posted, at least one of Massengale's critics comes from the youth program. Which gives us the chance to provide the following public service announcement to youth coaches everywhere in every sport:

Nobody cares whether you win. Or lose. Your job is to teach the kids fundamentals, sportsmanship and teamwork so that when the games do count, they have a solid background and frame of reference. That's it. Congrats on your 9-year-old winning the Micro B-6 Division. But does sonny boy really know how to play?

And if you really want to have an X-and-O exam against Massengale and his staff, I'd beg theday.com to webcast that live.

Not that any of it matters to SPIN. We want what we want when we want it. And because we live in hip, urbane Stonington, we're entitled to it.

I'm afraid what might happen this week. A couple of big games. Ledyard-New London, NFA-Glastonbury. Our kids might achieve great things again. And then get to read all the upbeat social commentary.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.


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