Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

Pardon My Gloat -or- So I Wasn’t Crazy

Writing this blog has taught me the fine art of expressing one’s opinion carefully. Or at least it’s taught me that this expression is an art; and you can be judge of whether I’m doing fine.

Just about three months ago, I noted a news story and had an instant and strong reaction to it. And blogged about it. Everybody is entitled to their opinion; not everybody is required to be entitled to mine; but in that particular case, going in with very few facts but a very strong sense about what was what, I plunged ahead and opined.

The news story had to do with Holy Cross women’s basketball coach Bill Gibbons, and allegations (notably by only one of his former players) of harassment and abuse leveled against him.

In that blog post, I noted that Coach Gibbons was an intense and passionate guy – heavens, all you had to do was watch him work the refs to know that – but that my first impression of him was of someone who cared about his players so much that he wore it on his sleeve right up to his shoulder blades. A few of my follow-up Gibbons-related experiences helped confirm this sense for me.

I got thinking about my first impressions. On rare occasions, they can turn out to be wrong. Very rare, I should note, at least the first impressions that I’m thinking of here. In an infinite universe, anything is possible; but certain things are pretty damn unlikely.

My first impression of Bill Gibbons? Not wrong.


Tomorrow evening, he’ll coach his first Holy Cross women’s basketball game since he voluntarily stepped aside while the College conducted an investigation of the charges leveled against him in a civil suit this past fall. Sadly, due to a prior commitment, I won’t be able to be there – and oh, how I would like to be there, as I suspect the Cross’ home arena will rock and roll right from the opening warmup jogs. It’s okay; I’ll get to another game later in the season; it might be a tad quieter, and maybe I’ll be able to get somewhere near Coach, to shake his hand.

The College decided that the suit brought against him “had no legal merit”. I read the document that outlined the former HC player’s case against Gibbons. I’m no legal eagle, but (long story short) as I read it, pretty quickly I started to feel like the lawyer was doing her level best for her client, but that the hill she was climbing was, um, steep.

In November, forty of Gibbons’ former players attended a home game, all wearing purple t-shirts that said “ALUMNI FOR GIBBONS” on the back and “TEAM TOGETHER” on the front. This, after the lawsuit suggested that the women’s basketball environment was so toxic (thanks to Gibbons’ alleged treatment of his players) that former players wouldn’t come back to campus to participate in alumni games.

So it wasn’t just me. And it wasn’t just me hoping my first impression wasn’t tragically flawed.


As I said in the blog post three months ago … in school, they told me: write about what you know.

So okay.

My incomplete knowledge, my circumstantial evidence, and my gut feelings about a first impression … all turned out to be on-target. I’ve learned, in the last three years-plus of this blog effort, to treasure the moments when that happens, since they don’t come often. And this afternoon, I learned that every so often, the allegations are judged not to be true, the reputation is not tarnished, and the right person comes out on top.

I admit that this afternoon, I took out the little “gloat” machine, let it run around the desktop for a few seconds, and then put it back into its padlocked box.

I called this one early.

It turned out not to be a tough call.


January 14, 2014 - Posted by | blogging, current events, Famous Persons, news, sports, writing | , , , , , ,

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