Sunday, June 13, 2010

Is it really how you play the game?

On April 29, 2010, Robin Laird the best pole vaulter for South Pasadena High School had the moment that every athlete dreams of. If she cleared her next jump, her team would win the meet, League Championship, and beat their rival Monrovia High School. Laird had apparently gone all season long doing everything the same. Stretches, warm-ups, and focusing on her goal: to clear the pole. On April 29th, the moment had come. No matter what, this next jump would be a defining moment for her in athletic career, no matter how short or long.

She cleared the pole with little difficulty and her team erupted in celebration. The 75 people in the stands (hey, it’s high school track) went nuts. South Pasadena had won another league championship thanks in part to the poise and skill of Laird.

You knew there was a “but” coming, didn’t you? Monrovia coach Mike Knowles, a 30-year coaching veteran of high school track and field, made a fateful walk over to the official’s table. He pointed to his wrist and pointed to Laird. What Laird had on her wrist was a friendship bracelet, a piece of string, that she had probably worn all season and definitely while she just made that last jump.
Section 3, Article 3 of the National Federation of State High School Associations -- is clear: "Jewelry shall not be worn by contestants." So is the penalty, and in the time it takes to read "the competitor is disqualified from the event," South Pasadena's win was transformed into a 65-62 victory for Monrovia.

So there it is. You can read the story through the link below, but yep there it is.


I am disgusted by the lack of sportsmanship displayed by a “veteran” teacher. Yes, he is a coach and coaches are hired to win, but sportsmanship needs to come into play at all times. I think South Pasadena coach P.J. Hernandez asked it best, “Coach, you really want it to come down to this?” I, nor Hernandez, nor his team questions the validity of the rule and the judgment that was made, but the way it went down comes into question. Why not say something earlier? Knowles made no secret of the fact that he saw the infraction before the jump as he studied Laird before the jump. Absolute chicken shit! Monrovia should feel cheapened with their championship honors and if I was on that team, I wouldn’t accept any trophy or honor bestowed upon me for an accomplishment I did not earn.

As for Robin Laird, her tears were not out of self pity, but as she claimed later, “I was disappointed that I let down my team and my coach.” Robin, I don’t know how far your skills in this sport will take you, but my modest hope (which means little) is to see you one day on an Olympic stage in the same situation. Of course, the end will be much different, the moment will end with you hoisting your arms with a bright gold medal dangling from your neck.

I take no shame in my proclamation, “There is nothing wrong with knowing you are the best.” So, to Laird, Hernandez, and the members of South Pasadena Girls’ Track and Field team I say to you just that. YOU ARE THE CHAMPS! Nobody can take that away from your hearts and minds. To Knowles, my disgust with people like you shows no mercy and knows no bounds. I sincerely hope the stink from your shameful act follows you to the day you die. Upon which your tombstone should read, “Here lies Coach Knowles, we know God will forgive, because everyone else couldn’t.”

Many of my readers are athletes and competitors. Some high school, some college, and some church league, how does this make you feel? I have clearly stated my opinions on the matter, but I am eager to hear yours as well.

As for Robin and her teammmates, there is NOTHING wrong with knowing you are the best!



1 comment:

  1. In my opinion, Coach Knowles may have some blame in this entire situational but you have to hold Coach Hernandez and Laird accountable for their actions. They knew the rules. They could have easily removed the piece of jewelry before she jumped. In the world of sports, it is not your responsibility to help your opponent win. The piece of jewelry probably didn't change the outcome of her jump but she wasn't suppose to have it on. If the coach and the athlete didn't notice this before the jump then who's fault is that? It may sound like a cheap way to win but you have to pay attention to detail especially in an event that was so important. Maybe it wasn't poor sportmanship by Coach Knowles. Maybe it was just plain shameful. Regardless, he was just doing his job in a world that supports winning at all and sometimes any cost.