MORGANTOWN — I am a child of a different time.
In my high school and college years, locker rooms everywhere had a sign that read:
“What you see here, what you say here, what you hear here, let it stay here when you leave here.”
Inside the locker room was a world of its own, where the coach was king and the players believed in him … believed in the coach because your dad believed in him at a time when he ruled the house … believed in the coach because the community believed in him, for he was often a key figure within that community.
It was a simpler time, a time of innocence. As a teenager, a young adult, you were naive, disconnected with the rest of a world that was still segregated, where they said a woman’s place is in the home, where you were taught from the time you could speak that “children should be seen and not heard.”
But times change.
Which brings us to West Virginia University safety Kerry Martin’s Twitter revelations about his relationship with his position coach and defensive coordinator Vic Koenning and Koenning’s coaching methods.
Martin’s charges on social media of insensitive remarks and actions led to Koenning’s being put on administrative leave and the subject of an investigation.
Immediately, Martin’s teammates lined up behind him on social media while there was a mixed reaction from the public, many backing him but some upset that was done so publicly on social media.
You know, “What you see here, what you say here, what you hear here, let it stay here when you leave here.”
They figure it should have been handled in house, mano y mano, face to face and not bubbling over into talk show fodder.
But this is the age of social media. It’s the age when young people no longer are taught or believe in being “seen and not heard.”
Theirs is a loud voice, if not one wise through experience then one that must be heard, for as much as we long for those simpler times of yesterday, they held us back rather than led us forward.
WVU wide receiver Sam James put it best with his Tweet:
As a player and growing up in this generation we were blessed to have social media to help us express ourselves and let our voices be heard if you got a problem with it you might as well delete Twitter.
The players lined up behind Martin on social media.
Defensive tackle Darius Stills from Fairmont Senior High:
Its Bigger Than Black & White, It’s A Problem Wit The Whole Way Of Life, Can’t Change Overnight, But We Gotta Start Somewhere, Might As Well Gon’ Head & Start Here …
Darius’ brother, Dante Stills:
Some people don’t understand WE ARE HUMAN and have feelings just like everyone else.
Linebacker Josh Chandler:
If y’all feel that strongly about what Kerry said then don’t come watch, or watch us play next year. Right, wrong or indifferent, I got my boys back regardless of what happens. So for all the “gameday” only fans do as you please. We will be just fine without the support.
Wide receiver T.J. Simmons:
It’s obvious that some of these “fans” only care bout you wen you making plays on Saturdays! Keep the fake love!
This showed that in one year, head coach Neal Brown has succeeded in creating a team atmosphere, but not the team atmosphere of the Vince Lombardi Green Bay Packers but instead one that fits into the year and the mood of 2020.
They say history repeats itself and in many ways we are repeating the history of the 1960s with its unrest and rebellion and one can only imagine what that might have been like had there been social media at the time.
Certainly, though, we are better for it in society and in athletics.
What is going on here is no different than it was then, with the exception that there is a voice available to all now.
Kerry Martin believes in what he said, Tweeting:
If you know me you know I don’t make anything up and I have sources to prove anything I’ve said.
And he’s drawn strength from the support he has been given by his teammates, again Tweeting:
I’m glad my team standing with me, forever going to ride for them.
What is obvious is that this is not an isolated incident, that there have been other problems on college campuses across the nation, most prominently in another Big 12 school, Oklahoma State, where head coach Mike Gundy found himself involved in a similar situation.
How this will come out no one can say just yet. Let us hope that Koenning is not the person Martin painted him as and that this is nothing but a failure to communicate on both parties’ part.
But let us also understand that Martin’s courage is unquestionable and that his willingness to stand up for what he believes in is a sign that we are entering an age where equality, religious freedom and the right to speak up and be heard is considered the American way.
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel