Judge Refuses To Make High School Teams Replay Game; Society Continues
A public school district in Oklahoma City asked a judge to force the replay of a high school football game when the refs made the wrong call on a penalty. Like a literal Rorschach Test for all amateur sports played around the country, the parents and school administrators looked up at Judge Bernard M. Jones II and shouted, "Save us!" But the judge whispered, "No."
And the rest of us should say, "Thank you."
— For The Win (@ForTheWin) December 11, 2014
With about a minute left, the Frederick A. Douglass High School QB threw a short pass to his receiver who turned it into a 58-yard TD, and put the team ahead of Locust Grove High School, 25-19. However, one of Douglass' coaches got called for accidentally impeding the progress of a ref (yes, that's a thing), a penalty that should have resulted in a five-yard penalty assessed either on the PAT attempt or the ensuing kickoff. Instead, the refs negated the TD, and as the football gods like to decree after key missed calls, the aggrieved team lost the game 20-19. So the players shook hands and learned a lesson in the rules of society and sportsmanship, right? Of course not.
The parents complained to the school. The school complained to the district. And the district complained to the courts, which when you think about it, is a very accurate lesson in the rules of society. With no process for challenging rulings on the field, the district claimed that its players had endured irreparable harm. Judge Jones issued a temporary restraining order to stop Locust Grove from playing its semifinal game until he could decide what to do. Luckily, the judge then made the right decision when he said that the improper ruling on the field might be considered a "tragedy," but if he reversed the refs' decision, he feared a:
Slippery slope of solving athletic contests in court instead of on campus [that] will inevitably usher in a new era of robed referees and meritless litigation due to disagreement with or disdain for decisions of gaming officials.
Sure, sporting issues have found their way into the courts, but considering the corporate, insurance and copyright issues associated with them, that's to be expected. But the courts cannot be a place where the game is played. (Okay, tennis, basketball, and racquetball are played on courts, but you know what I mean.) However, considering the path amateur athletic events are following, that is exactly what we should expect.
Leagues are second guessing their officials with instant replay. The money associated with pro and college sports is continuing to grow. And the parent-perceived stakes involved in club and school games are making every event a faux showcase for colleges and the pros. In other words, sanity in sports may be a lost cause. So before the world of sports is completely run by boosters like Buddy Garrity and their lawyers...
— Friday Night Lights (@nbcfnl) December 5, 2014
let's reflect on Judge Jones' decision while reading the immortal words of the patron saint of all that is good in amateur sports, Coach Eric Taylor:
Every man, at some point in his life, is going to lose a battle. He is going to fight, and he is going to lose. But what makes him a man is that in the midst of this battle, he does not lose himself.
Or lawyer up.
Photo via Getty
David Young has been a columnist for ESPN and Sports Illustrated and is now one for SportsGrid.com. Follow him on Twitter @turkeysflying.
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