Bring Coach Helland Back!

Bring Coach Helland Back!

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Sheli Asleson started this petition to UW-Madison Administration & Athletic Department

 

This petition is being created in response to the recent firing of Erik Helland, UW Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Badger Men’s Basketball Program. For those of you unaware, Helland repeated a story from his NBA experience to four young adults and in doing so, quoted the words (including the “N-word”) of a black NBA player.  Helland immediately stated his disgust for the word the player used.  Somehow this got misconstrued into part of the reason why basketball player Kobe King decided to leave the team.  King said it played no part in his decision, but unfortunately, it seems the proximity of the two events caused the athletic department to overreact, taking drastic measures and terminating Helland.  Helland’s exact words, intent and the overall context were ignored. There was no due process. The four players were not asked for their input and  progressive discipline was not considered.   Instead a rash and extreme PC decision was made by UW Officials.  It was not the right decision and as a result, Helland is left devastated, his exemplary career tarnished and his reputation damaged.


To be clear - Helland realizes that the racial epithet he quoted should not have been uttered and he fully appreciates and supports the inappropriateness of that word.  He has been publicly remorseful and apologetic and his public statement summed it up well. However, again, context is crucial and what the UW failed to consider.  The UW’s actions treat these basketball players like children, unable to even hear the “N-word” without emotional trauma. A great teachable moment for these young men about real life, not idealized PC life, was lost. It seems like the UW is more concerned with political correctness than making reasonable, rational decisions.  The context in which the “N-word” is uttered makes all the difference, as the Madison Metropolitan School district learned last fall in a similar fiasco.


Unfortunately, the UW has a delicate racial climate to navigate on its campus and as a result, campus officials frequently find their race-related crisis responses scrutinized under this microscope.   Initiatives have been put in place by campus officials aimed at ensuring UW Madison provides a welcoming environment that enables all students, faculty and staff to thrive.  These initiatives are necessary and appropriate.  However it seems that the UW is allowing the Helland situation to be used as a scapegoat in the University’s overall efforts toward improving race relations.  UW’s response was not based on the facts involved, context and intent. Termination was far too harsh of a response


Numerous players, coaches, player’s parents and individuals from the African American community have publicly come out in support of Helland.  Similarly numerous social media posts and op-eds about this situation have demonstrated an overwhelming public sentiment that Helland’s punishment was not proportional to this matter. This is a wrong that needs to be righted by the UW.  Please join us in signing this petition and insisting that the UW immediately reinstate Helland to his position as strength and conditioning coach.

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At 5,000 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!