The confusion continues to deepen over terms like character, discipline, suspension, expelled, second chances, and Divine intent. My question is: If this is what it takes to win, who’s winning?
What cost victory? On the professional level we know that a player need only to be out from behind prison bars to help win a championship.
Name the team or name the sport and you will find a player who by all reason should not be on the roster but is playing because of the economics of the industry, which dictate who gets to remain active.
On the collegiate level, it comes down to a player’s transgressions being kept secret only until his eligibility expires to stay in uniform. Do you really think the Ohio State football troubles would have ended with Jim Tressel becoming a vice president at the University of Akron, or Terrelle Pryor finding himself on the Oakland Raiders roster in 2011 had the NCAA not found out about Buckeye violations?
Which brings us to the high school level. Nothing should stun you or me when it comes to who gets to keep his uniform and those who end up on the outside looking in after a violation of team rules or being on the wrong side of the law.
And with that, maybe my stepping away from covering high school sports after 20 years with the largest group of daily newspapers in the country came at the right time.
Indiscresions on the high school level usually are confined to a player transferring outside the rules from one high school to another under for what all know is for the purpose of playing on a better team or changing a report card to make sure the team comes first and the player can stay eligible.
But one story that caught my eye was a player in the boys high school basketball championships in Columbus making headlines in his home town days before the tournament by being arrested for theft at a big box store. And much like what happens today, that player was “suspended” for the state semi-final.
You would have thought the season would be over for this player, but he was handed this light version of bench time of one game by his school’s administration and all was forgiven until after the season would end with the state championship.
At about the same time, a high school in my area had its own version of “How to distribute a penalty without really making it too tough.”
The violation was a handful of students of all grade levels being caught in a prescription drug sting that had some selling and other buying what belongs in your medicine cabinet and not sold on a street corner.
The result on an administrative level was this handful of students as young as freshmen being expelled from the school. And on the athletic level, the baseball program lost its senior standout pitcher along with a couple freshmen, who were dismissed from school that March and were unable to play on the freshman baseball team.
Sounds like all is right with this. But flash forward to the next school year and wham, bam, thank you ma’m, a number of those in violation of state law were back in the classroom to start the next school year.
It seems the definition of “expelled” that I grew up under no longer exists. I think that if a school system takes the time to bypass “suspension” and jump right to “expelled” you are talking about a serious breach of protocol and your days at that school are over.
I really don’t know how they dot the I’s and cross the T’s anymore in the world of education where teachers are now educators and schools have become a place to get three square meals each day of the year and not just between September and June.
I am told that in most situations, a school would rather bite its tongue and let a kid back in no matter what the kid did wrong because of state money involved in student enrollment figures. The higher the enrollment figure, the more cash you get from the state. If you kick a kid out of school, you lose a big payckeck from Columbus. And that’s a tough call for many schools.
That group that was “expelled” included those two freshmen baseball players who were allowed to return to school the next fall and were also welcomed back to the baseball program as sophomores.
The senior pitcher graduated by an unorthodox method and was welcomed at a Division II college where he was allowed to play baseball. Two years later, one of the “expelled” freshmen baseball players is in the regular starting rotation on a team that was unable to win five games a year ago but this year challenged for a league crown with his help.
Not only did the school admistration change the definition of “expelled” but the athletic department changed the definition of what coaches and athletic directors call the “privilege of wearing the uniform” of Harry High School.
When the subject came up that the team was carrying two players who just a year earlier were expelled, I was tossed unbelievable questions by a parent of another player on the team. The quesitons were “Don’t you believe in second chances?” and “Don’t you believe in God?”
I claim yes on both. But in this situation, that second chance was tossed out the window by the rules absent of enforcement by the school and the athletic department and I still have not come to grips why asking me if I believe in God had anything to do with kids caught buying of selling prescription drugs and the penalty they should face.
What was left out of that set of questions was how would I feel if I found out one of the freshmen baseball players who was “expelled” and allowed to return might have had leverage because he was connected by way of his father’s former occupation that included a paycheck from the very city the school was located.
A check of a very old dictionary on my book shelf that has John F. Kennedy as the current U.S. president says the following for expelled: “to run off from active membership in, as a school or a club; as, to expel a student from a school for bad conduct.”
Somehow, the quick return for two of the “expelled” to a high school baseball roster and another being allowed to play the next season on the collegiate level is far from “being run off from active membership.”
I need a new dictionary.
I’m not naive. But I am angry that I was duped for so many years into believing the bull from high school admistrations and high school coaches who wear out their mantra of “It’s a privilege to wear our uniform and not a right.”
I heard it over and over and over for the 10 years my kids were playing on the high school level and it rings as hollow now as it did the first time I heard it. Only now, it wears the face of players who were “expelled” but allowed to regain “privilege of wearing the uniform.”
This same baseball coaching staff told another player on that team that he was cut because the coaches did not trust he would be there all season due to his questionable grades. That by itself is a fair indictment.
But when you let a kid back on the same team after being “expelled” for being involved in a presctiption drug misstep, you are urinating up a rope. In other words, those looking for BS have found a large pile at the feet of such a coaching staff.
That coaching staff will be handed credit for turning around a baseball program with a plus-.500 season this year after having failed to win as many as 10 games in any of the last five years and has not finished the season at the top of any league it has played in since the turn of this century.
I don’t know about you, but today a coach has to earn respect and not be handed that “privilege” just because he “wears the uniform.”
The days when a coach is assumed to do the right things for the right reasons have been over for a long time unless you’re among the cub scout moms or among the naive. Count the little secrets that it takes to win today and its becoming a long list that includes turning a blind eye to the legal problems of your players.