Chaos Amid Dallas Parochial League

A popular coach is pushed out of the Catholic sports league

Deterred but not defeated, Keane served his time and was formally reinstated last summer by a DPL executive board. But after St. Mark's season-opening victory over Prince of Peace on September 9, St. Rita refused to play the Lions the following week if Keane coached. Then last week, after four more games without incident, St. Pius alerted St. Mark that it too would boycott an upcoming game. (Ironically, the committee that reinstated Keane included St. Pius AD Ginger Farrell and St. Rita principal Elena Hines.)

"It's not a league issue," says DPL AD Theresa Mosmeyer. "It's an individual school issue."

Adds Gonzales-Taylor, "Obviously, some schools didn't agree with the decision to reinstate Mr. Keane."

Even if they had a hand in it.

In effect, the two schools were holding St. Mark hostage until they got what they wanted: Keane's departure. So on October 11—sickened by the slimy politics—the man consumed with winning finally admitted defeat.

"We're ready to move on," says Gonzales-Taylor. "It's not like this is the first time in America there's been a problem involving a coach in Pony League football."

Therein lies the philosophy that would confound the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Conveniently characterizing itself as some fun-first li'l "Pony League" with only a minor mainstream malady, the DPL not long ago took itself so seriously that it empowered an eight-member board chaired by LeBlanc to suspend Keane for an admittedly minute "spirit of the law" transgression.

Peace be with you. And also with you—but only if you resign.

"I've already had two years taken away from coaching my sons," Keane says. "It's devastating. But I'm tired of seeing the kids hurt."

While Keane calmly watches his two sons (Oliver, a 210-pound lineman and Hayden the quarterback) from the stands, St. Pius takes the field for a game rescheduled from October 14 to the 17th. The question: Why? You'll have better luck convincing Pope Benedict XVI to intervene than getting a straight answer from his hell-bent parishioners.

Coach? "I have no comment," St. Pius' Lino Gonzales says. "You'll have to call the school."

Athletic director? "We communicated our reason for not playing against Mr. Keane to the St. Mark's administration," says St. Pius AD Farrell. "That's the only people that need an explanation."

Principal? "We don't have a comment on any of this," St. Pius leader Dr. Carol Newman snaps when I—honest to God—attempt to confirm the name of the school's football coach. "I'm not hiding anything, I'm just not telling you anything."

If the meek inherit the Earth, what of the paranoid?

Gonzales-Taylor maintains that the parable of the boycotts is "sometimes you have to do what's morally right." Perhaps, but what part of depriving kids the chance to play football oozes justice?

"We love Coach, and it's not right that he can't be down here with us," says St. Mark lineman Peter Burgess as he trudges off the field. "We're all sad. This whole thing has made football not as fun."

During St. Mark's 22-0 victory, the devil is on his best behavior. Never gets up from his seat and his most inciting shout is a "Lessgo, Bobo!" for Oliver. Sorry, DPL, but Kevin Keane is more dejected dad than lunatic Lucifer.

"This kills me," Keane says in the fourth quarter. "But I'd rather be a parent that watches these boys play than a coach who is the reason they aren't playing."

Making sense of the DPL's hierarchy of hypocrisy is like solving a Rubik's Cube, while blindfolded, after six goblets of communion vino.

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