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Posted November 15, 2010

Coach Who Whipped Players May Experienced Same Punishment When He Played

Clarion Ledger (Miss.)

When he allegedly whipped his basketball players, coach Marlon Dorsey may have been copying what he experienced as a player at Broad Street High School in Shelby about 20 years ago. 

 That's according to Marilyn Brooks-Thomas, who played basketball at Broad Street and said her brother was good friends with Dorsey, who was known then as "Sleepy." There is a long history of coaches at the Bolivar County school using corporal punishment on student athletes, she said. 

When she and other players messed up a play or missed a lay up, they were paddled with a 2-by-2-inch board, Brooks-Thomas said.

The coach "would swat you on your buttocks," she said. "He hit us like we were men."

In late October, Dorsey was put on leave with pay amid accusations he whipped players with a weightlifting belt although corporal punishment has been banned in Jackson Public Schools since 1991. He later released a statement admitting he whipped the players, but said he did so to save them.

Dorsey has given no other statements, but the situation has reignited debate over corporal punishment - a practice that still is prevalent in Mississippi - and the discipline of student athletes.

In Mississippi, most of the 152 school districts allow corporal punishment. The use of corporal punishment "should be guided by clearly defined policies," state Superintendent of Education Tom Burnham said in a statement. "Even in the presence of said policies, all school personnel have a professional and moral responsibility to use good judgment and work collaboratively with parents regarding disciplinary strategies and actions that will be used with children."

There are no immediate plans for the state Board of Education to look at corporal punishment, President Charles McClelland said. The decision on whether to allow corporal punishment is best made at the local level, he said.

Corporal punishment is allowed in North Bolivar County schools, which includes Broad Street High.

As a freshman basketball player, Dorsey stood out and was a top scorer, said Isaiah Peterson Sr., his former coach.
"He was a great kid, did a great job," Peterson said. Dorsey was very athletic and knew the game well, he said. 

 In high school, Dorsey "played tough, played hard all the time," he said. 

After high school, Dorsey signed with Mississippi State University and played there for one year before going to a junior college in Oklahoma and later playing for Oklahoma State University, Peterson said.

Peterson, who is now retired, said he was "shocked" and "disappointed" when he heard about the recent situation.

In the past, disciplining student athletes involved making them run or do pushups, as well as paddling, Peterson said. He said the paddling was "not to the extreme."

Times have changed, he said. "Things that I did when I was coach back years ago, I wouldn't even attempt now," Peterson said.

Coaches should take an intellectual approach to disciplining students, said Hill Williams, director of the Jackson State University sports science program and former chairman of the health and physical education department. Using corporal punishment with student athletes is not recommended, he said.

"In this day and time, we're going to have to appeal to our young men and women intellectually as opposed to trying to deal with fear and things of that nature," Williams said.

The students need to be valued as human beings, he said.

"And contrary to what people think, student athletes are intelligent and they can comprehend, they can analyze, they can synthesize and they can make good decisions if given an opportunity."

Some say Dorsey was attempting to impart discipline and make his players more well-rounded.

Some Murrah parents and basketball players have appealed for Dorsey to keep his job.

At a meeting earlier this month, one basketball player said Dorsey was the only father figure he has known. Another said players were getting complimented on the positive changes they were making.

Patrick Friday, who graduated from Murrah in 2009 and was a member of the basketball team, said he disagrees with Dorsey's use of corporal punishment but that he has seen positive changes in his brother, who is a sophomore.
Discipline has been a problem with the team in recent years, Friday said. Players "did what they wanted to do," he said. 

 Some players would leave the gym when they weren't supposed to and use their cell phones during practice, said Friday, who is now a sophomore at Hinds Community College in Raymond. 

What is not being talked about is what current players were doing to get disciplined, he said.

"If you know Coach Dorsey has a history of being extreme, of being tough, why would you put yourself in that situation?" Friday asked. Friday said his brother has not been whipped by Dorsey.

"When it comes to sports in general, but especially basketball, self-discipline plays such a huge role," Friday said. "There's not going to be someone there holding your hand 24/7."

Examples of self-disciplined professionalplayers from Mississippi include Murrah alumnus Mo Williams and former Lanier star Monta Ellis, Friday said. Their coaches - Orsmond Jordan and Thomas Billups - had a history of being tough and no-nonsense, he said. The same is true for former Murrah girls basketball coach Anna Jackson, Friday said.

"In order to make the team better, and in order to achieve your goal of winning a championship, you've got to do what you have to do on and off the court," Friday said.

But physical punishment can have lasting scars, Brooks-Thomas said. She said there was an atmosphere of secrecy and of mental intimidation at Broad Street High.

She said when coaches paddled her and her teammates, they would say they "were beating us to make us good, to make us a woman or a man."

The student athletes were told the discipline was a form of love, and that the team is a family.

Brooks-Thomas played basketball at the University of Mississippi from 1982-85, said she went to college expecting her coaches to whip her if she messed up. She said she initially struggled when that didn't happen.

"You develop a mindset that you're going to always be beat to play," she said.
COMMENTS: 1
Coach Who Whipped Players Punishing as he was Punished
Posted from: Julie Worley, 11/20/10 at 9:50 AM CST
Since December 2009 3 Multi-Million Dollar College Football Coaches were Fired for student athelete abuse.



In another recent shocking news story Mississippi parents complained that High School students/basketball players were being hit with 2-by-4 wooden boards. The North Bolivar coach was suspended for about two games.



Paddling when done to a non-consenting adult is sexual assault. Search Atlanta Reverend Eddie Long and Disbarred Judge Herman Thomas for recent incidents where unmarried mothers asked these men of power to "paddle" their sons, then these trusted men went on to sexually assault the young men.

A Tate County high school student filed a Federal lawsuit on 2/22/2010 to ban school paddling in Miss., claiming the punishment is unfairly applied based on gender/race also seeking a Declaration that Corporal Punishment on Students is Unconstitutional!

"Nearly 60,000 spankings in Miss. schools last year"; "Ouch! For the second time in a month, a school district in Leflore County, Miss. was hit with a $500,000 (each) lawsuit from students alleging injuries from paddling.



My husband and I are unable to protect our 3 children, whom we do not hit, from witnessing/overhearing classmates being threatened/hit by teachers with wooden paddlles just outside class for minor infractions such as not turning in homework or horsing around, without parental consent or notification, as some States such as Tennessee and North Carolina do not require it.



Several "School Paddling States" have "Teacher Immunity Laws" to protect employees from criminal/civil action.

Physical/Corporal Punishment is Illegal in schools in 30 states and Prohibited by Federal Law in Prisons/Juvenile Detention Centers.



Please urge U.S. Congress to enact HR 5628 "Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act".

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