Remember when local sports meant something?
One of the many things my generation needs to answer for is how we have f upped local sports.
The Duke of Wellington is quoted as saying," the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton ." Referencing the character building induced by games.
A suburb of St. Louis, East St. Louis, Illinois is amongst the most down and out places in America. Once the home of June Cleaver, it now has a median household income half that of the rest of Illinois. With 20% unemployment, a third of its residents live below the poverty level. Not surprisingly, the crime rate is one of the highest in the country, and there is a long and tattered history of political corruption. The one thing they do have, and have had for a long time is a great high school football team.
Sadly, there is trouble in River City. In March, 2009 the team's star defensive lineman, who is a son of a former assitant coach, and his cousin were arrested for allegedly robbing 2 couples. The star's cousin was sentenced last month to 15 years making license plates for his part in the festivities.
Football boy, upon his arrest gave the police his address, which was a home not in the East Saint Louis School district boundaries. Here is where the sports trouble begins.
Someone notified the sports authorities who investigated the lads residency. The Illinois High School Athletic Association ruled that since the kid, did not live in the district he played for, he was ineligible, and the team must forfeit all games he played, 10 last year and 5 this, making the team ineligible to play in the football playoffs, which begin today. The IHSAA also found that the team's star offensive player did not live in the district either, but for now the focus is on the kid who was arrested. They'll get to the offensive player later, if they need to.
This being America, the ESL school district's attorney found a judge who stayed the IHSAA's ruling, allowing the team to play today, in exchange for a hearing on the matter later .
So what have we taught the kids and the community about sportsmanship, character, the right thing to do?
If you let the team play and win, and the IHSAA ruling is eventually restored because of one player of another, how hollow is their victory? Would you feel better for your son, if he lost to ESL on the field, yet won in the courtroom? I wouldn't either.
Are we reinforcing the notion that consequences may come later, so don't worry your pretty little head about that now? That kind of thinking got the kid in trouble in the first place.
Do you think the former assistant coach knows where his own son lives?
I find the mess unconscionable. The adults have a rare chance to do the right thing, a school district has the chance to educate their community. It might hurt, but not as much or as long as it is going to.
An example of a kid teaching community what sports is about can be found here: Wisconsin juvenile golfer
Thank you for allowing me to get that off my chest.