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Youth Sports

Hooters to host event for youth football team whose coach was fired over party


Whatever one’s particular views regarding the wildly successful restaurant chain Hooters may be, there is no way to argue that it has some savvy marketing geniuses among its brain trust. How else can it be explained how ingeniously turned the tables on those who not only condemned but subsequently fired a middle school football coach after he announced his plans to hold the team’s end-of-the-season awards party at the local outpost of Hooters?

Randy Burbach ultimately relieved of his duties as head coach of Corbett Middle School (Ore.) football team after irate parents discovered that he had acquiesced to players’ choice of a Portland-area Hooters as the preferred site for the team’s banquet.

And that’s when Hooters got involved.

When word reached the powers-that-be that Burbach intended to have the party at Hooters, it was met with resistance. Corbett (Ore.) School District athletic director Jean-Paul Soulagne sent a letter to parents indicating that any party at the restaurant known for scantily clad servers as much as its menu would not be a school-sanctioned event.

Burbach refused to change the location of the party, saying he wanted to teach his players about standing up for what they believe in, even if what they believe in was a Hooters party.

“Not allowing myself to be bullied by a vocal minority is the war I want to win,” Burbach said.

In the end, because he remained steadfast in support of his players and their selection, he was fired.

But Hooters has stepped up, and in doing so, turned a possibly bad situation into a positive one and perhaps even left those who criticized having a party at one of its restaurants with a little egg on their faces.

In a statement, Hooters announced that the restaurant where the party originally was planned will nevertheless host a party for the Corbett Middle School football team, not only picking up the tab for the awards party but also announcing it would donate funds to the Corbett Youth Football program.

The statement from Hooters, in its entirety (via Deadspin):

Hooters of America Statement:

“The Corbett Middle School football players, coaches and their families have earned the right to celebrate a successful, hard-fought season. This Saturday, Nov. 9, Hooters is picking up the tab for an awesome end-of-season football party to honor the team’s gridiron success. To top it all off, Hooters will donate $1,000 along with 20 percent of Saturday’s Jantzen Beach location sales to Corbett Youth Football so that the entire community can join in celebrating the team’s winning season.”

Fantastic. Kudos to Hooters, not to mention Coach Burbach, who together stood up for freedom of choice, great food and the reputation of Hooters and its hard-working wait staff.

And if you ask me, my guess is that the party, despite the controversy, will be a real wing-dinger, if you know what I mean.