There are so many good reasons to get mad at Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. Ditching work to coach high school football isn’t one of them.
He yells at reporters who snoop around behind his house, he phones the cops when television cameras and comedians chase him up his driveway, he forgets things such as being arrested in another country and then backtracks when he realizes he’s been caught.
There are even football related things to get mad about – the Star reported the Mayor demanded millions in provincial funding to fix the field only his team enjoys, and that whole thing about voting in council over his collection of money for his team that could ultimately cost him his job. And who knows why his players were taken back to the school on a city bus after their game Thursday.
But leaving work for a few hours each week to volunteer as a coach? Come on.
Here’s the most recent case against the Mayor: While council debated a multi-billion transit deal with Metrolinx, the Mayor was prepping his team to play a semi-final game across town. He coached the game (they won) and then he came back and rejoined the debate.
No votes were lost. No policies were changed. Council did not need to pack things up because they were rudderless without their leader. At worst he missed a few hours of speeches that wouldn’t be likely to sway him anyway– he likely read all of the reports prior to the debate (likely while driving down a highway, but that’s a different thing altogether) and his position is hardly a secret.
So he left, as he has done before. And as he has done previously, he became incredibly blustery and defensive when asked why he insists on coaching football when other important business is going on. He’s probably a little touchy, mind you, after a bunch of councillors and advisers recently held an intervention at his mother’s house telling him to coach less and ‘to mayor’ more. That has to be annoying.
“If I’m [not] there what are we going to do, just forfeit the game?” he said in published reports. “These kids live, this is their education that rides on these games … If I got hit by a car obviously someone would have to do it but as the head coach it is an irresponsible thing to do and if I wasn’t there things would have gotten out of hand.”
And here we get to the heart of the Mayor’s football problems – his messaging is all wrong. Here’s what he should have said: “I’ve coached football for decades, as everyone knows. I know people think this is taking up a lot of my time – that’s something I’m going to have to think about through the winter. But today was a really special day for these kids, many of whom have stayed in school largely because of the adult interaction and guidance they have received from the football program. My job is the most important thing in the world to me, but I felt I could step out for a little while and help these kids finish what they started. The championship game is coming, I hope everyone in the city comes out and gives them some support.”
There are so many good reasons to get mad at Rob Ford. It’s a shame he makes it so easy for so many people to pick the wrong one.