If Pittsfield High School baseball coach Bob Moynihan is being let go after more than three decades of service then not only is he owed an explanation but so is the community. If the answer is pressure from a member of the School Committee and/or complaints from disgruntled parents, the school is heading down a path that should concern all of its coaches.
Mr. Moynihan, who has built up an impressive résumé as coach at PHS, wants to come back for another season but was told the job would be publicly posted, and there are now four applicants for the position. In a letter sent to Pittsfield officials and The Eagle, Pittsfield attorney Ken Ferris, a PHS graduate who played for Mr. Moynihan, said rumors have circulated for two years that an unidentified member of the School Committee wants Mr. Moynihan fired "because of some parents' dissatisfaction with their sons' playing time." No one in an official capacity, including Principal Matthew Bishop and Athletic Director Jim Abel, has said otherwise.
An unidentified player on the 2013 team asserted in a story by Sports Editor Matthew Sprague Saturday that change was needed, as recent teams have underachieved. It's possible that Mr. Moynihan may have forgotten how to coach, but the blame for underachieving is more logically placed on the players themselves. It is also possible that the players held themselves in higher regard than was merited.
It is certainly not uncommon for parents to be unhappy about junior's lack of playing time in any team sport. Coaches, however, have expertise that parents do not and they can also be objective about an athlete's performance, which parents almost certainly cannot. Coaches also have no incentive to put a talented player on the bench. The best strategy for dealing with complaining parents is to ride it out, as the player will graduate and the parents will move on as well. The one constant is the program itself, and school officials must put its welfare first.
If school officials succumb to parental pressure, including pressure by proxy through a school board member, they have declared open season on every coach in the school. If such a strategy succeeds it tells every mom or dad who thinks their son or daughter is not sufficiently appreciated by a coach that they may be able to send the coach to the sidelines in favor of someone more to their liking.
If there is a good reason why Mr. Moynihan should not be retained as coach let's hear it. Failing a good reason, PHS officials risk opening a potential Pandora's Box of problems.