It’s been an interesting season on and off the field. The playoffs are in full swing and while most of the stories are being made by players making plays, other news is of suspensions and forfeits.
The biggest off the field story of the year came two weeks ago when the No. 1 team in Missouri Class 2 Cardinal Ritter forfeited its entire season and shut its program down for the season after it was found playing two ineligible players. For one of the players it wasn’t just a case of a clerical error there was a change of jersey and a lie told to a reporter that made the situation even worse. The entire coaching staff at Ritter was fired and the longtime AD retired immediately.
Last week after the Ritter situation two other schools in the St. Louis area Jennings and Bishop Dubourg both self-reported an ineligible player and forfeited games. Then a week ago McCluer North self-reported to the Missouri State High School Activities Association that it had used a player that was not on its official reported roster for six of nine games.
Dubourg and Jennings were both eliminated this past week but McCluer North won its first game and was set to host Parkway West in the Missouri Class 5 playoffs. It was the first game for both teams as each had a bye in the first round of district play. McCluer North has offered to play the game at Parkway West which West accepted. McCluer North’s first-year AD has been placed on administrative leave by the Ferguson-Florissant School District.
A few weeks ago I did a podcast with David Kvidahl of STLhighschoolsports.com to talk about the Ritter fiasco. We lamented the fact that the incident had taken away from his personal and the paper’s time from covering actual games on the field.
Wasting sportswriters’ time covering off the field stories isn’t the crime here. It’s adults not doing their job well that breaks the rules or just breaking them intentionally that is the crime. It hurts the kids involved and those who aren’t involved. If Kvidahl or another reporter at another media outlet is out chasing a cheating program they aren’t diving into the story of the kid who is putting together the best season of his or her life helping their teammates and school be successful.
While this seems like a St. Louis problem and it would be easy for us here in Kansas City to just say ‘wow we aren’t that dumb or don’t try to cheat’ don’t get ahead of yourself. Bad decisions are not the exclusive property of the eastern portion of Missouri. Whether it’s a clerical error, a coach who steps over the line or a parent that doesn’t care what the rules are and shops their kid around to programs to get the most playing time, it’s happening here too.
I’ve been covering high school sports since December 1991 and while I can’t tell you if it is better or worse, I do know one thing. It’s time to cut the crap and start playing by the rules. If you don’t like the rules, then work to change them. Stop cutting corners because you want to win or earn that scholarship.
Doing what you think helps your child, team or school no matter what rules you may bend, or break doesn’t help anyone in fact it hurts everyone.