A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
If News Accounts Are Correct, A Dallas Hoop Guru Has Fouled Out
SAN ANTONIO – When it comes to dealing with kids, this writer has a soft spot for them; especially the at-risk kids who don’t get the opportunity that some of the more affluent kids from the burbs get. Well even these days the suburbia kids have issues with getting good role models in sports and like the inner city kids, these kids look to the volunteer coach. So when a good friend of mine who is in radio sent me my Daily Sports Dose e-mail, I started skimming it to see what’s out there to write about for this week. What struck my heart and grabbed my attention was the story written on James E. Brown of Dallas, Texas (Hoops guru claims he’s innocent, story located at dmn.com) and the fact that he is now sitting in a Dallas County jail cell on charges of sexual assault of a minor.
Now I am vaguely familiar with Mr. Brown’s work and his program, Maximum Performance. For those in the Dallas area, they know the work that these shooting camps have done for many of the talented high school players. Brown is a shooting coach in basketball. His camps are instruments that have helped numerous youngsters better their game. So believe me when I was surprised to read this story about how a man who was so enamored by the players he helped, the same man where the parents who paid him $100 an hour to teach their child the proper ball rotation and release techniques, and those local, state and national program directors who wanted Maximum Performance to help deal with the at-risk kids who couldn’t afford the c-note tutoring charge was now a man who is sitting in a jail cell because he has a checkered past.
“If you are charged with aggravated sexual assault with a child and you’re coaching children, that is a problem,” Judge Manny Alvarez told Brown.
What probably is more troubling than anything is the fact that the charge is almost three years old and Brown has been able to duck and dodge the court system during that time. Also it’s not like he has been the model ‘coach’ or role model during that time either. The Dallas Morning News has done it’s homework and they are probably a good reason why Brown’s gravy train ride on the court has now been derailed. His jig is up and his ship has sunk. The accusations alone have ruined his reputation and probably a program that was on its way to being a model for a few cities.
TEMPTATION GOING TO BE AROUND THE CORNER Now I don’t know whether Mr. Brown assaulted this young lady or not and if the charges have been this long, maybe they are real or maybe they are not as well. In any case when you are dealing with young people, there is going to be a temptation to do something wrong; especially when you are dealing with young ladies. Because volunteer and real coaches who deal with these young people are surrounded by femininity on a constant basis, if you are a male coach you have to protect yourself. You have to make sure that you have female assistants who are with you at all times or who can relay your messages to your players for you in a closed setting. You have to make sure that you treat these young ladies with dignity, respect and sometimes with kid gloves because some of them may actually want to pursue an outside interest. Yes parents sometimes your little princess is actually the Wicked Witch From the West. Don’t think that her or one of her friends hasn’t schemed about ‘doing’ the male coach or teacher. The reality of the situation is that thanks to illustrious inventions like television programs that go a little further than normal in their adult situation content, your daughters may think that having sex with older men is a cool thing to do. However this does not excuse any male coach who gets caught in a ‘compromising’ position. If you let your guard down, you can bet your last paycheck that there will be a player who wants to do the nasty with you and sometimes the temptation is just too great.
That is why reading this story about Mr. Brown upsets me a bit. I’ve been a volunteer coach and thanking the man above, I have never had to deal with female ball players. Dealing with my own male species was enough to send me back to the safer confines of a keyboard and mouse. So I applaud those male coaches who can get the job done and teach the wayward player the right way to play the sport they are in. That’s why I have mentioned Mr. Brown’s program in passing to those who are looking for better ways to help their child succeed. But at the same time you have to now wonder what kind of temptations were out there that have cost this man his good name and reputation in the coaching circles of Dallas, Texas.
“We’ve been in his program since sixth grade,” said supporter Jo Cameron, whose daughter Randi was a star player at Allen High and is scheduled to attend Long Beach State on a basketball scholarship. “I call him ‘Coach’ because he is the true description of the word.”
Ms. Cameron will not be the only parent, coach or program director that likes Mr. Brown’s program to come to his defense because all they have seen are the results of his program and folks in this business it is the ‘bottom line’ that counts; especially if you want to be a successful shooting consultant to the top athletes in your neck of the woods.
IF ALLEGATIONS ARE TRUE, THIS PROGRAM IS OFFICIALLY OVER If the allegations against Mr. Brown are truthful, he will be looking at some serious time for a careless mistake. However that premise is a two edged sword because even if he is able to beat the charges, his reputation and this once high profile camp will be over. Either way, Brown will have lost probably what he loves most; access to helping top player is their bet.
No matter how you look at this story, James E. Brown’s legacy will be that of a pedophile or child molester. He will never be the same man whether he is innocent or guilty because while one may be a physical torture (jail) it will be the mental torture that might do him in. It’s about being able to hold your head high in the sports community folks and Mr. Brown will not be able to resurrect his now tattered life whether he knew about the appearance in court or not.
With this allegation, Brown’s program is now dead because some of his biggest supporters just happened to be in the crime prevention business. Some of his other supporters were the coaches of top programs in the area. The foundation that he set up will now probably be dismantled because what organization will contribute to a cause where the executive director has been to court.
“He always asks for lots of money,” said Millie Deanda, the Dallas crime commission’s executive director. “And we’ve been receptive,” because Brown’s track record was good, she said.
The Dallas story points out that Brown’s program went from sessions with all boys to sessions that were infiltrated with girls to then where he had separate sessions with them. There is nothing wrong with what Brown has done and there are numerous basketball camps across the country that is co-educational. What boggles the mind is the fact that Brown didn’t think that maybe some safety guidelines for him and his staff were in order. As I’ve stated earlier, dealing with boys is a job where you have a set of rules that go across all age levels. Then you have a set of rules for girls and young ladies that are totally opposite because you are dealing with females. Things you may say to a group of boys you can’t say to a group of girls. Things you may want to demonstrate and elaborate on with boys may not necessarily carryover well to the girls. It’s something that every coach deals with when they are dealing with both sexes and it something that undoubtedly gets a few in troubles.
COMMUNITY SUPPORT HELPS BUT WIFE’S STANCE QUESTIONED As it so common in many of these cases, if a person has done a good work in the community, members of said community will speak up for that person and be by that person’s side. This is no different for Mr. Brown now. Former coaches, police officers and other dignitaries have nothing but nice things to say about Mr. Brown, his character and his program. Yet all of that means nothing because the allegation is hinged on a complaint that was filed back in 1995 by a young lady who was then a minor and Brown’s wife escorted that individual to the police.
Mrs. Joyce Brown says in statements that she no longer believes her husband assaulted the young lady but that does not help the situation now. The family lawyer may try to protect Mrs. Brown from testifying against her husband but the prosecution has her at a witness for the prosecution. In other words, Mrs. Brown can go to all the coach counseling she wants but it’s not going to help her husband unless she has some evidence that is contradictory to what the prosecution has. It’s a situation where it looks like everyone is scrambling for the best possible posture in a quagmire that is deeper than any ocean of despair.
This is going to be one of the stories that this writer will monitor because it affects the very thing that I and so many others in this business do; cover sports. Oftentimes fans don’t realize just how important individuals like Mr. Brown may be to a young player’s development and it is with a begrudgingly push of righteousness in doing my job that I have to keep very unbiased to this situation. The good thing is that I don’t know the Browns or any of the story subjects personally and that should make things easy for me. The sad thing is that while I may not know anyone in that story, that doesn’t mean I don’t know of individuals who may have been in Mr. Brown’s position. The only thing I can say for certain is that if the accusations are true about Mr. Brown and that young lady, a very successful program will be going to jail with him and that in itself is reason enough to help that his day comes when he can face his accuser.