Parent says coach told kids to suck it up as they crawled on blisters

JONESBORO, Ark. – The mother of a child whose hands were burned during football practice at Nettleton Junior High School is expressing her pleasure at how the school is handling the situation but not everyone is happy.

At least one parent of another child injured in the incident was upset and said the school hasn’t said a word to him since his child came home nearly in tears – and with skin peeling off of his hands. (Graphic photos below)

A post first shared on a social media by an angry mother, who specifically asked NEA Report not to share her full name, is what brought this incident into the public’s attention.

In the post, which has reached 50,000 as of this article, the mother said Nettleton coaches had her child bear-crawling on the “spongy asphalt” on the practice field as a result of punishment during football practice. The child’s skin was busted and bleeding. Covering the bloody palms was black material from the track surface, indicating the child had continued to walk on his hands long after the skin busted and blood seeped out of his wounded skin.

While the post was shared to friends only, a number of the mother’s friends were so outraged, they demanded action.  Social media masses sent photos of the post to news outlets including The Jonesboro Sun. 

In Friday’s newspaper, The Sun reported Nettleton schools were investigating the incident and that the coach had been taken off the field until more was learned. They also showed the photo from the angry mother’s post.


It wasn’t just one student.

After NEA Report and The Jonesboro Sun each respectively published details, other parents came forward with one common theme – asking not to be identified. This likely was in part due to the rampant victim-blaming expressed by a loud minority of readers.

One who reached out was a concerned father who said his child was nearly in tears after the skin came peeling off of his palms in a shower following the torturous practice.

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Photo anonymously submitted to NEA Report

“To say me and his mother were a little mad would be an understatement,” the father told NEA Report. “I just couldn’t understand why they were made to do the bear crawling and crab walking on the track. And why they weren’t stopped once the coach was made aware of what was happening to their hands.”

Shockingly, his last sentence indicated the coaches were aware of the suffering of the teenage players and forced them to continue. We asked the father if any of the children spoke up. He confirmed they did. They were ignored.

The children were “basically told to suck it up,” the father said his child told him. The father also said enough children were affected by it for the school nurse to be keeping a list but he did say not all of the players had injuries.

“My son did not go to the doctor but he did go to the school nurse who added his name to a list of other kids that were affected,” the father said. “He also told me that the nurse actually picked some small pieces of the track surface out of his hand. The night it happened he was almost crying after his shower.”

NEA Report reached out to Nettleton Public Schools on Friday afternoon but did not receive a returned call before our publication.

The concerned mother’s initial post indicated the painful activity was a “punishment” of some type. The father we confidentially interviewed said he was told some of the children were cussing and arguing in the locker room.

He told me that some of the other kids did complain and they were basically told to suck it up. – Father of Nettleton Junior High football player.

The father said another concerning aspect was that he had not been contacted by the school.

“They have not tried to contact which is surprising,” he said. “I would have at least thought they would have called a meeting with all the parents.”

A second father anonymously reached out to NEA Report late Thursday, stating he had a photo of his child’s hands which was worse than either of the above photos. He later messaged us asking for his name to not be revealed and seemed to be unwilling to discuss the matter further for fear of reprisal.

Meanwhile, the tone of the angry mother behind the widely shared post changed completely after school officials met with her, a public Facebook post said Friday. The woman posted the following update:

“The entire Nettleton staff has been more than remorseful and accommodating,” she began. “The coaches have apologized, in my opinion very sincerely to the boys. And I don’t believe the coaches realized how bad the burns are, because my son isn’t one to complain. He doesn’t blame anyone and still wants to play football. Nettleton schools have been amazing to my children for 10 years now. This is the first incident we have ever experienced and I don’t believe it will ever happen again. My son looks up to these coaches and they want to mend this with dignity, everyone involved. The athletic director and football staff have been quick to act and continue to show support. I do not want anyone shamed on social media. I was a very concerned and upset mother and I am satisfied with how Nettleton is handling everything.”


Stan Morris Reporting

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