An ethically destructive decision
Dear Editor:I was appalled while reading the article in The Aspen Times concerning Travis Benson’s resignation as head football coach and the circumstances leading up to it (“Football coach resigns amid uproar,” Dec. 13). In spite of Ms. Sirko’s denial in the newspaper, it is very hard to see this as an ethical decision. Hiring Ms. Sirko’s husband (no matter how qualified) under the dubious auspices of mentoring Travis is woefully inappropriate and a terrible example for the kids. It is arguable that this issue would not even have come up if Mr. Sirko were not “available” and Ms. Sirko were not in the position of superintendent.My family was one of the few families (along with Tom Goode who agreed to be head coach and eventually hired Travis) who fought desperately back in 1999 to have the football program reinstated in the high school, yes, because I had three boys who wanted to keep on playing after two fun, learning, successful years at the middle school under John Dodds. We had numerous meetings and raised money (and significant amounts out of our own pockets) to pay for the program because the high school could not (or would not). We’re very pleased to have made this contribution because the program has been successful – not because of a winning record, but because of the dedication and commitment of the coaches and players.My three boys grew up in this valley, participating in numerous sports and had some good coaches and, unfortunately, some really bad ones. Well, Coach Benson is one of the good ones and had a huge impact on one of my boys in particular. In fact, Ben is still playing at Grinnell College where he is playing linebacker for coaches who love the game, who instill a love for the game as well as work ethics, team effort and a thirst for learning the game.At the present time, the team does not have a winning record, although they work their butts off to win. However, the program is so much more that! Perhaps, Ms. Sirko will remember Ben when he and Dusty Stutsman came in to talk with her in support of Coach Benson.I would like to thank Coach Benson for his seven years of coaching from which my sons greatly benefited. You showed character and integrity. You were an inspiration and a role model. Your passion for the game was contagious, and I am so sorry it had to end this way, in a manner so unethical, unprofessional and so political. Truly, our school system must be better than this.From my viewpoint, as coaches, the football coaches from Aspen High have been some of the more outstanding citizens. Rather than create incidents of verbal or physical abuse, they focused on instilling character and integrity. Modeling these great behaviors for the kids has been really important.I challenge Ms. Sirko to correct this situation. Whatever her intent, I find it poorly conceived and ethically destructive.Nancy WestfeldtAspen
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