You may recall that just a few weeks ago Jackie Robinson West Little League of Chicago was forced to vacate their regional and U.S. championships after an investigation revealed their coach and district superintendent intentionally used as many as three players they knew lived outside district boundaries.
Now we have another example of adults ruining it for kids, as both Riverdale and Smyrna High Schools from Tennessee have been banned from the postseason (both had already qualified), placed on probation for a year and fined $1,500 each.
Why? Because both girls basketball teams played not to win, as in “Tried to deliberately lose” in their game Feb. 21.
Why? Because the winner would be forced to play defending AAA champion Blackman (25-2).
In order to face a more “beatable” foe, Riverdale (22-8) head coach Cory Barrett and Smyrna (21-8) head coach Shawn Middleton apparently decided to order their teams to avoid trying to win. The teams made intentional turnovers, deliberately missed free throws and even shot at the wrong basket.
It is not as if Riverdale was inept. The team was the 2013 state champions, winning their third title in four years with their 58th consecutive victory.
One of the referees warned the benches after the situation became intolerable. A Smyrna school official then ordered Middleton to command his team to play to win, which they eventually did, 55-29.
The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association was not amused and lowered the boom Tuesday. Sadly, the girls — who were, of course, following their respective coaches’ orders — are now being punished for the idiotic behavior of a few adults.
What kind of lesson were those involved thinking they were imparting? And where were the parents? Why did no parents come flying toward their team’s bench and demand to know what was going on? They deserve blame, too. Sad, all the way around. Sad.
The frustration felt after watching the Perry girls fall in the regional semis Saturday is slow to leave.
Among my irritants is the seeming lack of support for an excellent team and a set of seniors unlikely to be replicated (maybe ever) at PHS.
While I am aware the State Wrestling Tournament championships were on TV at the same time, that is no excuse for not turning up for a HOME game to back YOUR Jayettes.
Many more adults made the trip to Gilbert Monday to back the Bluejays. I have no problem with that — it was great to see a big Perry crowd and I hope it is even bigger Thursday in Ames.
However, the student turnout was, in a word, pathetic.
Do not think that this went unnoticed by the girls on the team. They could see for themselves how small their own backing was. Winterset had just as many students in attendance as Perry. Sad, all the way around. Sad.