Ohio Children’s Football League Bars HIV-Positive Man From Coaching Position
The Ellet Suburban Football League, a children's football league outside of Akron, Ohio, on Sunday announced that it would bar an HIV-positive man from being an assistant coach, the Akron Beacon Journal reports. Dan Gable, director of the league -- which is overseen by the Ellet Amateur Athletic Association -- said that he had received anonymous telephone calls from people identifying themselves as parents of children in the league saying that they were concerned about former Akron firefighter Stephen Derrig coming into contact with their children on the field because of his HIV-positive status. The calls prompted Gable to call a board meeting to discuss the issue, and the volunteer members on Sunday voted to prohibit Derrig from coaching. Dr. Margo Erme of the Akron Health Department attended the meeting at Derrig's request and said that "occupations such as coaching present no risk for AIDS transmission," the Beacon Journal reports. Following a "raucous" meeting on Monday night, almost all of the members of the league's board announced their resignations after "parent after parent" said the board was making an "ill-informed" decision. Currently, Derrig's position with the team remains "in question," the Beacon Journal reports (Wallace, Akron Beacon Journal, 8/5).
'Ignorance of Past'
The Ellet Suburban Football League's decision to bar Derrig from coaching indicates that they are "stuck in the ignorance of the past," according to an Akron Beacon Journal editorial. Although Gable said that he was concerned about protecting the children, they are more likely to "break their necks, or ... get hit by lightning" than be exposed to HIV because of contact with Derrig, according to the editorial. According to the Beacon Journal, the "real threat exists in such a miserable example of decision-making, a process conspicuous for its lack of knowledge." The editorial concludes that Derrig "deserves an apology" and should be "welcomed back" to his position, adding, "The league should admit its disgraceful error and prevent further embarrassment to the community" (Akron Beacon Journal, 8/6).