Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Patch

A big story on the sports' websites several years ago regarded a high school girls' track team in California losing a league championship when a pole vaulter wore a friendship bracelet. After the young lady had won the event, and the team won the title with those first place points, an opposing coach protested over what was classified as jewelry. As you might expect, there was an uproar. Here is a similar incident I wrote about on August 7, 2007.

I'm big on doing things the right way in my classes and in my coaching. Rules and regulations are important....but they can't overshadow everything else. There was a story in the national news last week about an American Legion Baseball controversy in the state of Washington. American Legion regulations require that uniforms bear the Legion insignia, traditionally a sewn-on patch. Two teams recently won first round district tournament games but were made to forfeit because their insignias were silk screened to the jerseys, allowable under national Legion regulations, instead of attached by thread. One of the squads had dominated their victory in a 14-0 rout. The forfeitures immediately became subject matter for talk radio and sports columns. The director of the tournament says all teams had been notified by e-mail of the new policy. The coach of one team maintains he wasn't informed because the e-mail came on a school account he doesn't check in the summer. It was reported one team made a gentlemen's agreement with the director to make sure they had the sewn-on patches in place by the next tournament but ended up forfeiting the game anyway. The director seemed to take the approach that a rule is a rule and you can't deviate. The players and coach of the team that was awarded a victory after being trounced by fourteen runs admitted they did not deserve the win. There are conflicting accounts of who actually lodged the protest. In the end, the ruling stood. The tournament is over but the fallout will continue indefinitely. I liked what the media in Washington dubbed the quarrel: Patchgate. Nicknames have the side effect of insuring disputes have a life of their own.

I love American Legion Baseball. I played it for four years and I coached it for three. It has a history dating back to the 1920's. It is steeped in tradition and patriotism and is a summer staple in many parts of the country. I remember before district tournament games reciting the American Legion sportsmanship pledge as both teams lined up on the baselines. I consider it an honor that I have worn the patch in question as both a player and coach. It's easy to question someone else's decision, especially when you are a thousand miles away and don't have access to all the information. With that said, I can't believe the only way to handle the situation was with forfeitures. The method of adhesion had no effect on the outcome of the game and the punishment was directed at kids who were at zero fault. A little creative correction was in order. Intent of the law should be seen as more important at times than the letter of the law. (I realize this can be the dreaded slippery slope.) James 2:13 teaches us that, "Mercy triumphs over judgment!" Last week in Washington, judgment threw a shutout at mercy.

Applicable quote of the day:
"The other sports are just sports. Baseball is a love."
Bryant Gumbel

God bless,
Luke 18:1

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1 comment:


You always write the most interesting posts, some have me thinking about for the rest of the day, Thanks for sharing,most enjoyable.