Smith: Hiring Art Briles makes me question being a Ticats fan

We have reached the final straw.

The Ticats hiring of Art Briles as assistant head coach sparked justifiable outrage amongst the CFL community when it was announced earlier this morning. Briles was fired by Baylor University in May of 2016 for helping to cover up multiple cases of sexual assault by players on the football team, including a number of gang rapes.

Just typing that sentence made me feel sick.

I have been a very loyal Ticats fan for close to 30 years. I have supported this team through the good years, the bad years and the years in between, and in all those years nothing has made me question whether I should continue being a fan.

Until today.

The team has made moves I haven’t agreed with; in fact, they do it quite frequently. But I remained a supporter because it is all about the name on the front of jersey, not the back. But the team has never made a move so vile, so disgusting, or so indefensible as hiring a man who allegedly helped cover up numerous sexual assaults.

It has been tough being a Ticats fan this season. An 0-8 record, multiple double-digit losses, a 60-1 embarrassment in Calgary, all the jokes about cheering for a team that, quite frankly, sucks. But that is the nature of sports. Some years your team is the hammer, others the nail. But there was still a measure of pride, Hamilton pride, in being a Ticats fan. That is gone now. There is no pride to be found in cheering for a team that would hire Art Briles.

This is a stain that will stay with this team for a very long time. It is not one that will be washed away simply by letting Briles go. The decision was still deemed appropriate by whomever made it, be it June Jones, Kent Austin, or by someone even higher up on the ladder. Someone made the call and we need to know who, and they need to answer as to why they thought this was a good idea.

The CFL may be a league of second chances, but there are some people who don’t deserve a second chance.

Art Briles is one of those people.

Josh Smith has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.