Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Grownups Wanted: Must Be Able to Verify Adult Status

This afternoon, the board of the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association met to determine what it was going to do about 64 seconds of high school football. They denied a protest about a bad call. That could mean that this all is over, or it could mean that an even greater level of absurdity is reached when people who are supposed to be adults extend their tantrum into the legal arena and start paying people to argue about it.

Last Friday, the Locust Grove Pirates beat the Oklahoma City Douglass Trojans 20-19 in a Class 3A football quarterfinal. The problem is that they did it because the officiating crew blew a call against Douglass and negated a Douglass touchdown scored with 1:04 left in the game. That touchdown made the score 25-20 and had Douglass made the extra point, they would have led 26-20 with that 1:04 to play.

But they didn't, because the officiating crew didn't assess the penalty on the kickoff after the point, as the rules said they should. Since then, the Douglass coach and, eventually, people who should have more to do who work for the Oklahoma City Public School system, have asked the OSSAA to either allow the game to be replayed from the 1:04 mark on or have it declared a no contest and replayed over completely. Members of the officiating crew have said they were threatened by the behavior of the Douglass crowd, while the coach and others deny that.

The OSSAA originally denied the request, but the Oklahoma City Public Schools appealed the denial, which is why we have this hearing going on now. In addition to the folks at OKCPS and Douglass, two state senators have said OSSAA should allow the game to be replayed -- either the whole thing or just the 1:04. This is kind of understandable -- the state legislature only meets from January through May and legislators get bored when they're not spending our money. But it's also kind of not. In fact, while the bad feelings and frustration seem well within bounds, all of the talk about replaying part or all of a game is the kind of idea you come up with after subbing in for the tackling dummy without wearing a helmet.

Does the replay count the touchdown or not? Is it fair to Locust Grove to make them start a game five points behind and say, "Score in a minute or your season's done?" Because a week has gone by since this game was played, so it's not really "continuing" anything -- it's a whole new game. Should they then just void the previous game and play a whole new one? Does the winner of the make-up game get some kind of advantage from an extra game when they finally play the winner of the other quarterfinal or are they at a disadvantage? What if a major player gets hurt in this extra game and the winning team has to face an opponent without him? What if a player who was hurt now gets to play because of the extra week, and makes some kind of game-defining play that affects the outcome? There are a lot more where those came from, and the fact is they are all silly. Because this whole discussion is silly.

A definite wrong happened, and it happened to kids because adults screwed up. But there's no way to put it right. None of the solutions fixes the problem in any way that doesn't cause a half-dozen more problems.

Were I the Locust Grove coach, I would apologize. If the touchdown against me had been a game-ender, scored with no time left, I'd voluntarily vacate the result and forfeit the game to Douglass. But it wasn't a game-ender; my team might have scored. So I can't do that. I'm stuck with the game as it is. And if the OSSAA ruled that I had to replay, I'd forfeit then also. If winning the game means so much to the Douglass coaching staff and the Oklahoma City Public Schools system, let them have it. If some judge says the game has to be replayed, then I'm still forfeiting. Stage whatever farce you want and dress it up in talk of fairness, and enjoy your win.

But do it without me. I'm not playing.

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