High School Football

Corporal Punishment at Dallas Lickin' High School

I'm 44. But I'm about to sound 84.

It was a better world when paddling was a part of school. A safer world when "licks" between a teacher and student were punishment rather than perverted pleasure.

Hear me out: I'm not condoning the 21 "licks" allegedly applied to the backside of a Lincoln High School football player. That, of course, is excessive, brutal abuse and the fact that the school's coach and principal attempted to hide the episode proves their guilt.

But we wonder how our kids got so out of control? Where's the respect for teachers? For authority? Where have all the hard-nosed disciplinarians like Bobby Knight and Vince Lombardi and Woody Hayes gone?

Easy. We've degenerated into a wussified country weakened by Downy-soft consequences, only to inexplicably react with aghast at the resulting hard times.

I don't remember all the numerous groundings I incurred as a kid. But I vividly the recall the two times I got paddled.

When I was about 8 I kept jangling my spoon in my dinner bowl. Jangle. JANgle. JANGLE! Finally my Dad, already infuriated after reading a Skip Bayless column in the afternoon edition of the Dallas Times Herald, had enough.

"Do it again and I'll have to get the belt," he warned me.

My response: "Then I guess you'll have to go get the belt." JANGLE!

I didn't walk right or sit comfortably the next week. But to this day I haven't again JANGLED!

The other time - similar to the Lincoln student - I smarted off to a football coach at Duncanville High School. These were the early '80s, mind you, so there was much more "corporal" in the punishment.

"What are you, just a bunch of babies?!" the coach screamed as we struggled through another set of bear crawls.

"If so," I remarked, "wouldn't that make you just a babysitter?"

The next day the coach called me in front of the entire football organization - players 9th through 12th grade - and pulled out his verision of a paddle, a thin, wooden mallet with holes drilled in it to increase the aerodynamics of its weaponry. I wore only a jock strap and thin athletic shorts.

"Grab your ankles!" the coach barked.

The first lick literally lifted me off the ground. I don't remember the last two. But I damn sure recall immediately and forever muting my smart-aleck retorts, storing them in hopes that I'd some day have a blog for an outlet.

Conversely, the kids at my son's school are threatened with in-school suspension, or after-school detention. Truth be told, he had to stay late one day last semester.

"So," I smirked, hoping he'd learned a lesson, "how was detention?"

"Good!" he said. "My friend let us play with his really cool new phone. Can I get one?"


Paddling is legal in Texas and 20 other states, but I venture to guess it's not as prevalent as it was 25 years ago. I'm not calling for 21 licks or taping up cracked canoe oars or sinister cover-ups. What happened at Lincoln was obscene, and the administering coach should face disciplinary and legal action.

I'm just saying that, well, wouldn't it be a better Valley Ranch if Wade Phillips had a paddle?

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Richie Whitt
Contact: Richie Whitt