Here’s my column from Saturday morning, in case you missed it.
Within the next week or so, Monrovia High School principal Darvin Jackson and his administration are expected to decide whether football standout De’Shawn Ramirez will be allowed to return to their school and play football this fall.
Ramirez is currently attending Canyon Continuation High School in Monrovia, which is where he was sent without playing a down last season for an unspecified incident while he was a student at Monrovia.
As is always the case when a minor is involved, privacy laws don’t allow schools to comment on the specifics of what a student did wrong. Obviously, it was serious enough to land Ramirez far away from the football field, where his former team won the CIF Mid-Valley Division championship last year without him.
Now, as Ramirez’s senior year looms, he’s seeking to return to Monrovia where, once on the field, the consensus is that he will be one of the top running backs in the Valley.
I urge Jackson and the Monrovia administration to let him return.
I say that with some caveats. I do not have Ramirez’s case file in front of me, but if his grades check out and he’s made progress in the areas where it’s requested, then Jackson needs to reach the same decision I have:
Ramirez must return.
Does making such a decision open up Jackson and his administration for extreme scrutiny and criticism if they allow Ramirez to return and he slips up? Yes. Does it matter? No.
And that’s because football could be the thing that turns Ramirez’s life around. It could be the thing that sends him on a path to a productive life.
And by denying Ramirez another chance to play, the administration would be doing more harm than good.
True, the sports world is littered with tons of athletes who got second, third, fourth and fifth chances but never turned things around. Even our own Valley has experienced the travails of players who got second and third chances only to squander them.
But those situations are on them, the athletes, not any coach or principal who cleared the way for something positive like football to hopefully have a productive influence on their lives.
If 99 situations where a kid was given a second chance fail, but one has a good outcome, then it’s been all worth it. The job of teachers, coaches and administrators is to point our young people in the right direction. Whether they choose to go that way is up to the student-athlete.
Allowing Ramirez to play football gives him an opportunity to use his exceptional talent to hopefully clear a better future for himself.
Indeed, football is a privilege and not a right. Ramirez had his chance and dazzled as Monrovia’s starting running back when he was a sophomore. Then, he messed it up. It’s now time for him to get the second chance that he is certainly not owed, but hopefully has done enough to earn.
Most of you think you already know how Ramirez’s story will end up. And the odds say you’re probably going to be right. But I urge you to think about the “what if” factor before writing Ramirez off.
What if this young man uses his talent and allows the positive influence of being around Monrovia’s coaches to right his personal ship?
What if the light suddenly goes on after hearing the same message from a coach or teacher after the 100th try?
Where else other than a football field is Ramirez better off?
Nobody in society should give up on kids. Not our school administrators, teachers or coaches, and certainly not our parents and communities. Football could be Ramirez’s ticket, but we’ll never know if he doesn’t get back on the field.
Wouldn’t you rather know instead of wondering what might have been?
It’s time to let Ramirez play and root for the best.