Saturday, October 30, 2010

Remember when? A rant.

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.



Dutch Uncle said...

Remember when local anything meant something?

James said...

Sadly he knows where his son lives now.

NCJack said...

I'm afraid this isn't new or limited to "big time" programs. When I played in the mid/late-1960s there were kids who lived with aunts, grandads, etc. in small towns around us for no particular reason. Coincidentally, they were football stars at their schools

But those were isolated, and the kids were not treated much differently than the rest of us. Now it looks like a pro system, in place and ready to "draft" each year.

Suburban Princess said...

When I was in high school we had the top football team in the area and kids from all over Toronto would try to find ways to go to this school. I remember there was a policy in place...if a student transferred to the school they had to attend for 1 year before being allowed to play on any teams or get documentation proving their parents really truly did move into the area and own a house there and live there. The weird thing is, it's not like football is even that big here!

LPC said...

Oh gosh. The commercialization of absolutely everything.

ADG said...

Toad...we've lost our moral stamina required to do the right things and teach the right lessons. Sad, but I believe this to be true.

Flo said...

"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."

Oh, if only we could compare the sporting fields of Eton [ultra exclusive academy founded 1400/ 1500, where sports is ranked second perhaps, perhaps not, to rigorous academics] to that of East St. Louis. Oh God, if only there were one or two rational coordinates in such a comparison then we might be able to build on your and the Duke's thesis. I'm afraid we here in the USA are unable to make such a comparison unless we make a lateral [upward?] move to include our small exclusive private academies, Toad.

Toad said...

I'm saddened that there is no outrage to business as usual.

Flo said...

Yes, and I'm saddened that the banner and motto of the last couple of generations in the USA reads "It's not my fault, it's his/hers/theirs." I can still hear my Dad's cautionary words: "When something goes wrong, your first question should be 'What did I do to contribute to the situation.' " That primer is GONE.