Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Scrambies Declares South Pasadena High Track Team the Rio Hondo League Champion

From SI.com:

This is the story of a high school pole vaulter whose successful leap in the last event won the meet and the league championship for her team -- until an opposing coach pointed out she should be disqualified for breaking a rule, reversing the outcome so that his team captured victory and the league title.

The girl's infraction? Wearing a friendship bracelet.

That's right. South Pasadena High School's Robin Laird (pictured) clinched the league title for her team with a clutch performance in the pole vault, the meet's final event. Moments later officials disqualified Laird because, as opposing coach Mike Knowles (of Monrovia High) pointed out, she was wearing braided colored strings around her wrist. Section 3, Article 3 of the National Federation of State High School Associations says: "Jewelry shall not be worn by contestants." A friendship bracelet is jewelry. I guess. Because of the disqualification, Monrovia won (in some sense of the word) the Rio Hondo League.

Had an official noticed the bracelet and disqualified Laird, his or her actions would be defensible, albeit petty. But officials in this case acted at the suggestion of a coach who waited until Laird had clinched the championship for South Pasadena to point out the violation. Laird and her teammates lost the title because Monrovia's coach was a bad sport and a sore loser. (Sorry. He was.)

Just about anyone who has played sports at any level has heard gruesome stories about athletes and jewelry. I remember hearing a story about a basketball player who lost a finger when his wedding ring got caught on the net, and I vaguely recall stories about athletes who were choked by necklaces. Though I suspect that both of these stories are urban legends, I understand the reasoning behind barring jewelry from athletic competition. That said, I'm not sure that Laird was putting herself or anyone else in danger by pole vaulting wearing a friendship bracelet. And if Knowles was really concerned about Laird's safety, he would have pointed out the violation prior to the event.

Safety aside, Laird wearing a friendship bracelet in no way gave South Pasadena a competitive advantage. (And, according to some of the comments from the LA Times blog, several Monrovia athletes were guilty of similar violations. The South Pasadena coach didn't alert officials, presumably because doing so would have been petty.) Thus, I'm declaring South Pasadena the winner.

This story is similar to the story from last fall about the cross country team that was stripped of a county title because one of its runners wore shorts with the wrong color of stitching under his uniform. But that story didn't involve a tattletale opposing coach.


Anonymous GG said...

Hi, apparently you didn't read the full story on this, but the coach in question could not have seen Laird's bracelet beforehand because it was a cold day and none of the athletes took off sweats before they competed. And what if Laird had been a softball player whose home run completed a really nice feel good story, except for not touching third base (clearly she would have gained no advantage from that either) DQ should have been put on the BBQ, right? Rules are rules and high school kids are not the people who need to learn that sometimes you can let a rule slide.

12:19 PM  

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