About Rules and Responsibility
ANN McDONALD, The Countywide and Sun
Last week we experienced the worst behavior imaginable from the sports world as well as the some good stuff from others involved in athletics.
We can't ignore the horrible situation at Penn State University. It's everywhere, on the sports page to the news to the internet to the local coffee shop. No question that more is yet to come out. What we do know is that a man has been arrested for molesting several young boys. And because there seemed to be a cover-up, several high profile men lost their jobs.
Love him or hate him, Joe Paterno has been implicated as part of the mess if for no other reason than the alleged criminal was a friend and employee. The story of this man who had coached at the same school for 46 years has polarized the country, even among those who have no interest in college football. Even if he's ultimately exonerated from any sort of serious involvement, the man has lost his "legend" status and will likely only be remembered by some for this event.
It's about rules, and it appears many were broken along the way. The boys who were involved are robbed of their innocence. The assistant coaches as well as the athletic director, college officials all the way up to the school's president, the president of what was probably a fine youth organization, and possibly even some lawmakers and a judge, are taking serious hits. Yet the man who allegedly broke these rules of common decency denied earlier this week that he was as bad as he was being made out to be. Another one of those "I made some bad choices" excuses.
There's another case about rules being broken. This one's closer to home. A couple of weeks ago it was announced that Guthrie High School was found to have used an ineligible player and was being forced to forfeit all the games the boy had played in. For many schools across the state that might not mean much, but the Blue Jays were undefeated and picked by many to win the Class 5A state championship.
The rule this boy broke declared that if a student moves from one district to another, certain papers have to be filled out stating it was a legal move, not something just to facilitate the youngster's moving into a better athletic opportunity.
Years ago that was a real problem. Many boys I knew suddenly showed up in a new school and not only enhanced their new teams but their chances at college scholarships. But it was abused and it wasn't fair, so the OSSAA began implementing rules about transfers and moves.
The mother of this boy was a teacher at one of the Guthrie schools and the family decided to move there from Prague. They bought a house, put their old one up for sale last winter and this fall he went out for football. Trouble was, their old house never sold and they let an older brother live in it while he worked in Shawnee. That makes it appear "legally" that they were maintaining two residences. That's against the rules.
The player and his team were devastated. Nobody had intended to break the rules.
The OSSAA met last week and said the ruling had to stand, that they had to enforce the rules. Then they met again to listen to the Blue Jays' longtime coach. He said it was all his fault, that he simply hadn't taken care of the proper paperwork. He begged the governing body to punish him and not the players.
The OSSAA listened, considered, re-voted and agreed with the coach. The rule breaker should be punished and not the innocent. So Guthrie got to play in the playoffs (and won big time!) while their coach sat in the stands. He must have been very proud of his players for "sucking it up" as they say, and playing through the adversity. The players must have been very proud of their coach for taking the responsibility. And the OSSAA board members must be sleeping well for doing the right thing.
Doesn't it make you wish everybody would take responsibility for their actions?
Wed, January 18, 2012