Timeout with Tambo: An open letter to Dennis Ackerman, the retiring San Diego Section CIF commissioner
By BILL TAMBURRINO
Your timing is not good. You are leaving a good job at a bad time. You have done a very good job. I know because I know a lot of people you have angered or who disapprove of some of your decisions. I am one.
When I look back at the decisions that you made that disappointed me, however, I realize that you made those decisions for the greater good.
I am biased. I only care about what is good for Ramona. You have to take into consideration the welfare of every student-athlete, coach, official and fan in the section. You had a very difficult job. You did a very good job.
You did have some good training. You got to work with Jan Jessop for five years as an assistant. You knew what you were getting into in 2001 when you took over as commissioner. You came into the job with plenty of experience of making people angry.
Anybody who has officiated college and high school basketball for 30 years has made decisions that have angered at least half of the people in the gym. I was one of those coaches.
You were fair, consistent and honest. I am not saying that you never made a bad call, but you always made what you felt was the right call.
Some things never change. Officiating basketball or any sport should be a requisite for all future commissioners.
Your first job working for the CIF was as an assignment secretary for basketball officials. Payback can be sweet.
I really don’t know who signed your checks or who your boss or bosses were. But I do know who you worked for. You worked for the student-athletes of the San Diego Section. You and your staff’s (Your staff had more merry pranksters than Paul Rudy ever had.) number one goal was to make sure that playing sports was a rewarding experience. You achieved that goal in spades.
You made playing in Qualcomm, Petco, Jenny Craig, etc. a rewarding experience. You spread the wealth. Plenty of schools from every part of San Diego and Imperial counties got to experience playing in special venues.
The commissioner should not have to do menial jobs, but you did. You led from the front.
I have seen you clean up. I have seen you give speeches in sports coats and suits with a tie. But the image I will always remember is the commissioner in a green baseball cap at the gate of a junior college football stadium in the rain making sure that the two teams that did not get to play in Qualcomm had a good experience. They did.
You had to deal with some difficult issues: eligibility, transfer students, foreign exchange students, rogue coaches, rogue parents, club sports and travel ball. You made Pursuing Victory with Honor and sportsmanship more than a phrase. It became a reality more times than not.
I am going to publish your one special wish. It says more about you than I can put into words. “I wish that kids could be able to play more than one sport and not feel pressured or guilty. I wish that kids could have some fun in the summer and not feel pressure and guilt. I wish coaches would worry more about the welfare of the kids than about their programs.”
Mr. Ackerman, you are a dreamer! But you have made a lot of dreams come true.
I have dealt with you on several levels — journalist, coach, parent, teacher, fan, high school sports advocate. Friend, however, is the most important.
I know what you will be doing in retirement. I’ll see you at the stadiums, gyms, pools, tracks, fields and courses where high school kids play and where they are having a rewarding educational experience. They might not be aware of the fact that you are there and are very responsible for those experiences, but I know.
Thank you and God bless,
- Timeout with Tambo
- Timeout with Tambo: Lessons learned from Dad
- Timeout with Tambo
- Timeout with Tambo: Greed
- Timeout with Tambo: Two weeks to remember
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