Thursday, October 16, 2008


The dark side of the internet has cast its nefarious shadow on The Herald, its readers and one of the finest high school football coaches I've known in my 17 years of sports reporting.

For those who aren't familiar with the issue, it begins with the tragic and rare downfall of one of our local athletes.

Ryan Molloy was a terrific football player for Berlin High and head coach John Capodice. He was arrested for possession of cocaine and drunken driving early Sunday morning.

The Herald offers readers an opportunity to respond to articles online and a coward delivered some idiotic remarks posing as Coach Capodice. Naturally, subsequent readers assumed that it was indeed the coach who filed the crude email and let some more terrible remarks fly about the coach's character.

Capodice and his undefeated Redcoats were in the midst of their final practice before Friday's huge Nutmeg League game against Rocky Hill when all this came down. When he returned home and caught wind of it, he sent me a series of emails that indicated just how upset he is. He sent an email to The Herald's website to describe his feelings for Molloy and what he's about to endure.

This opens up several issues. Generally, this whole internet thing scares me more and more every day. The cyberworld, as wonderful as it is for research and communication, is cheapened by a lawless frontier that allows the scum of the world to fester in their anonymous glory. That is a deep and disturbing issue that I can only hope someday will be resolved. A few rotten apples spoil what should be a tremendous asset for us all.

Then there's the coach, who spends so much of his time way beyond what he's compensated to help boys become men. In nearly every case, he succeeds, which gives him a hell of a winning percentage. Even those who may have a problem with his coaching or teaching style or something he's done or the importance placed in sports by our society, it can't be denied that he's a pillar of the community. How unfortunate that he should have to undergo this scrutiny and abuse.

Finally, there's Ryan Molloy.

Good kids do bad things for any number of reasons. I have known Ryan in passing and written about him extensively. What he's done tends to make him out to be a villain but I hope we can give him the benefit of the doubt until we determine what turned him to alcohol and drugs.

I'm no psychologist and surely not a social worker, but I care about the kids I've covered and I'm not turning my back on Ryan. I truly wish there was something I could do to help him. I have faith that he can learn a lesson from this mess and become a productive human being as he grows into adulthood.

I just can't figure out contemporary society. We have a list of all these riduculous politically incorrect things that used to be okay but can't be whispered anymore without somebody getting bent out of control, yet we haven't come close to having the common sense to keep from hurting each other for no good reason.

I hope we have the resources to find the lowlife who misrepresented Coach Capodice and punish that person to the full extent of what the law allows. If the person was too slick or simply can't be found or can't be prosecuted, I hope the person's conscience inflicts a lifetime's worth of guilt.

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