Doug Brenner shoots for St. John Fisher School in a 2007 CYO basketball game. (Sentinel archives)
Doug Brenner shoots for St. John Fisher School in a 2007 CYO basketball game. (Sentinel archives)
In 2011, as my son was about to start at Jesuit High School, he spent a day shadowing an upperclassman. Doug Brenner was a big man on campus, literally. A lineman for the Jesuit football squad, he was also big of heart, full of gentleness and kindness.

I sat up in 2017 when news emerged that over-the-top football workouts at University of Oregon seriously injured Brenner and two other Ducks players. I was confident that Brenner was tough as nails, and not prone to complain.

I sat up even straighter when he filed a lawsuit against the university. It turns out the exertion and dehydration were so severe that the players’ muscle tissue started to break down and get washed away by bodily fluids.

UO settled with Brenner in May, long after the offending coaches had been dismissed. Meanwhile, Brenner’s promising NFL career was kaput.

I hope he received what he deserves. And we should all let his lawsuit remind us that sports are games and that love of the game and sportsmanship should override winning and cashing in.

Recent changes in rules for college athletes give just the opposite message. Our stalwart local sports heroes at Catholic Youth Organization have been professing right thinking for decades. Yes, kids are human and so CYO competition gets stiff. But the difference is that games start with prayer and coaches are trained to let everyone play and get experience, even if that means losing.

Here is an excerpt from a statement read before every CYO competition: “We will teach that teamwork and doing your best are more important than winning. We will applaud good effort by all competitors.”

Something is wrong when college players and coaches are driven by money and fame to go too far. Let’s remember both the philosophy of CYO and make Doug Brenner, himself a CYO athlete in days of old, its patron.