Parker: Somebody better do something

Somebody somewhere better start doing something to stave off the physical violence associated with athletes. Here's one outside-the-box idea to make them realize someone's always watching.

What’s an outrageously romantic holiday for some (if the babysitter is free) is National Singles Awareness Day for others.

In the early stages of Valentine’s Day for Tennessee football coach Butch Jones, a possible evening of elegance was probably destroyed with a single phone call: “Coach, sorry to bother you, but we have a problem.”

“What do we got?”

Well, coach, it sounds like that 6-foot-4, 300-pound defensive tackle that you and your staff held off all comers to land and got in school six weeks ago choked and fondled a young lady. Then, he wouldn’t let her leave and threatened her.

“Gotta find out what all happened. He’s suspended, effectively immediately. Tell Ryan (Robinson).”

Everything can change in a split second. It’s hard to corral 105 Division I football players for all 31,536,000 seconds each year. Better find a way to get through to some of the egos early before an avalanche of negativity comes crashing down all over your progam.

While it’s not a solution, I may have an idea that could help.

Dipped into my own pocket a couple years ago to purchase a GoPro camera in hopes of some outside-the-box content for InsideTennessee. Using the device at press conference settings got double takes from people like Butch Jones and Holly Warlick but it does the job.

In an effort for coaches to put the Volunteers in the best position possible to succeed and maximize their ability, certain running backs and quarterbacks have had cameras similar to a GroPro affixed to their helmets during practices at Neyland Stadium.

It may be time to take the mini-cam idea one step further because some people just aren’t getting it.

Between flatulating and exposing my buttocks to friends and teammates in high school and college, I definitely had my share of immature experiences. However, The Huntsville Times and WAAY didn’t follow our every move and social media didn’t yet exist. We just didn’t have to grow up as fast as the teenagers and young people associated with Division I athletics did and especially not how they must today.

From the moment some of these teenagers start getting scholarship offers, camera start setting up shop both in their faces. The microscope leans in at an age when they’re still developing.

Butch is always open to the sports science side of things. From implementation of homemade peanut butter to monitoring heartbeats, Tennessee football is all over it.

GoPro (Photo by Danny Parker)
Take it a step further by giving the newest student-athletes an idea of the world in which they reside. Attach, fasten or stick GoPro cameras on the green horns. These devices can be set to record or photograph remotely from a smart phone after downloading the app. The hopeful result is that the players get a more accurate idea that someone is always watching every single thing they do.

Argument with a lady friend. Choosing to try the “punch” at a party. An opposing SEC fan gets obnoxious. It’s a minefield of quick decisions that must be made by a young adult likely on his own for the first time that’s probably already had a lengthy week from dietary changes, college-level coursework, meetings with coaches and strenuous workouts.

Is the use of technology an invasion of privacy? No doubt about it. But it will be temporary (a week or less) and could change the life of a young person and those close to them in a positive fashion.

Don’t look it like an annoyance or a buzzkill. View it as a way to get better off the field by better understanding the world in which we live.

It’s not yet clear if the Alexis Johnson allegations in Volunteer Hall are true. If they are, Tennessee will likely swiftly remove the newcomer from the roster as it did A.J. Johnson, Treyvon Paulk and Michael Williams previously.

If it goes to trial, cameras will be all up in Johnson’s grill. Wouldn’t it have been easier to place just one on him weeks ago and maybe this whole thing would have been avoided.

It’s possible a racially charged “justice writer” will re-open this case somewhere around February 2029, so Tennessee will want to put its best foot forward now getting it right — and make more attempts to prevent it from happening again.


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