And another one gone, another one gone, another one bites the dust.

Chris Kempton’s tenure as head football coach at Scarborough High School lasted only a few hours longer than Bill Belichick’s stay with the New York Jets.

There are obvious differences. We’re talking about a second-division schoolboy team in Maine, not a star-crossed professional franchise in the ‘burbs. And Kempton didn’t reluctantly accept the job through a soon-to-be estranged Svengali, even as his eyes already were fixed on a rival’s more fertile ground.

Kempton wanted to coach in Scarborough. It had upside. It had po, as in potential, if not mo, as in momentum. It seemed the perfect Red Storm.

Of course, the reality is that Scarborough is no different than most school athletic programs these days.

Subject to a school board’s every whim. Run by parents. Overseen by administrators torn between personal desire to win and professional need to instill the hand-holding, Kum Ba Yah-singing initiatives of Sports Done Right. (I’ve always wondered, do grammar teachers call it Sports Done Properly?)

Formally introduced last week by the media as Scarborough’s next football coach, Kempton tendered his resignation in a letter only days later.

One minute, Kempton chortled about the good fortune of inheriting a sleeping giant. The next, he reportedly cited unacceptable working conditions and slid his clipboard underneath the door.

Let’s return to the classic rock theme for a second and fairly point out that the 40-year-old Kempton is a football freebird.

After leading alma mater Winthrop back to respectability in his mid-20s, Kempton has been a college assistant at Bates and Colby. He also helped out with high school programs in Lewiston, Maranacook and Waterville and mixed in a one-season-and-done encore at Winthrop.

The guy gets around. He is also a terrific football coach, one whose old-school sensibilities (think Nick Saban, not Bob Knight) seem to fall farther than ever outside what has become the hand-wringing, mamby-pamby, accepted norm.

That scares me, because if Chris Kempton can’t put up with the lunacy that pervades youth sports nowadays, I wonder who can.

Kempton reportedly quit over some combination of the following:

– His teaching job wasn’t what he expected it to be.

– Scarborough may have reported itself to the Maine Principals’ Association for a possible sports season violation after Kempton mentioned his prospective players’ off-season weight lifting program to reporters.

– There was a backlash when Kempton publicly announced his hiring of Jason McLeod as offensive coordinator and Edward Little graduate Dave Sterling as defensive coordinator before official approval.

I’ll dismiss the classroom complaint as the tip of the iceberg. I’ve met enough coaches to know that most of them would be willing to teach a course in un-strapping Velcro in return for the after-school fringe benefit.

If Kempton supervising the Nautilus machine is a violation of sports season policy, then every program at every school from varsity football to freshman field hockey is breaking the rules.

And football coaches need to have some level of autonomy when it comes to hiring their help for a specialized game such as football. If you were sold on the top dog, it seems reasonable to trust his judgment on personnel matters.

Of course, being a football coach is like any other form of middle management in our power-to-the-people society. Everyone else is your boss. You are pulled in more directions than Gumby. And then if you’re smart, you save the cost of blood pressure medication and divorce court by walking away and enjoying life as an underling.

Or worse, you never come back at all. After his college stints, Kempton was a changed man in a changed environment his second time around at Winthrop. What flew without question in the 1990s falls on deaf ears and draws the ire of persnickety parents in this decade.

Kempton might walk away for good. I wouldn’t blame him. I wouldn’t expect him to be the last.

All of which is a crying shame for high school football.

Kalle Oakes is a staff writer. His e-mail is [email protected]


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