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No One Wins in Class AAA Situation

December 4, 2010


In case you've been living in a cave the last two weeks, the West Virginia Class AAA high school football title game won't be held today at Wheeling Island Stadium.

Chalk that up to boys behaving badly and a legal system not behaving.

What we have here is a failure to communicate - bad decisions don't always result in consequences, or something to that effect.

Call me old fashioned but what good are rules, regulations, and order if violations of those don't result in some sort of penalty?

For the cave-dwellers, this should get you up to speed:

(1) Two weeks ago, in the W. Va. Class AAA football quarterfinals, Hurricane was advancing the ball in the final minutes on a potential go-ahead touchdown which would oust two-time defending titlist South Charleston from the playoffs. With 14 seconds left, a Hurricane pass was intercepted by a South Charleston player to preserve the victory for the Black Eagles.

(2) In the heat of the competition, the Hurricane receiver knocked the South Charleston player to the turf and that opened the brawl gates for both benches. A game video, which game official are not permitted to use in these situations, reveals dozens of players leaving sideline benches - a punishable violation, in an on-the-field confrontation involving several players from both schools.

(3) Game officials, who are instructed to not only attempt to control the situation but to jot down numbers of involved players, ruled the game over with a few seconds on the clock.

(4) The W. Va. Secondary School Activities Commission, which sponsors and regulates the playoffs, has a rule that suspended players in a football game must sit out the next contest. Of course, the season is completed for Hurricane, which started the melee, but South Charleston's victory advanced it to the semifinals vs. Brooke, which upset top seed George Washington.

(5) Parents of the suspended South Charleston players hired an attorney and found a friendly judge to rule, first, an injunction to permit the players to compete vs. Brooke. And second, that the players are eligible to compete in the playoffs. The attorney is listed on a finance committee for the judge.

(6) Brooke, bowed by one point to South Charleston, protested the game for South Charleston using players suspended from a previous game. And the Brooke partisans turned to an Ohio County judge to give a 10-day delay of the title game to continue the legal process. Now the ball is in the W.Va. Supreme Court, starting Monday.

So, who are the major players in this legal soap opera?

(1) Martinsburg High School - The unbeaten Bulldogs haven't done anything wrong, to the best of our knowledge, but could be hurting the most. They have qualified for the delayed finals but don't know the opponent. Many of their fans, player parents, booters, etc., had to cancel hotel rooms this weekend in the Wheeling area because of the title game postponement.

(2) The Super Six in Wheeling - This event was hit hard by the situation since the organizers always roll out the red carpet for the six competing teams and their partisans. Businesses will be affected while the Class AAA title game situation is in limbo.

(3) The WVSSAC - The governing body of high school sports in the Mountain State has rules and regulations for the member schools. If those are not followed, why have competition?

(4) Game Officials - We wouldn't wear a striped shirt and whistle for all the tea in China. It's a no-win situation and it's harder every year to attract new officials because of all the hassles, legal or otherwise. These hard-working arbiters are under the microscope too much and should be permitted to do their job without constant roadblocks.

(5) Hurricane High School - A player for the losing team in the controversial playoff game vs. South Charleston started this mess which was answered by the South Charleston players. Both teams were wrong in this bad behavior but South Charleston can be penalized the most which is why we have this legal situation.

(6) Brooke High School - The Bruins must feel it's them vs. the world in this legal battle. Earlier in the season, they had two players sit out a game after a contest suspension. Last year, they had a coach sit out a playoff contest after a game suspension. Now, an opponent is permitted to use players suspended from a previous game. Ironically, the vice-president of the SSAC Board of Directors is the principle of the offending school, South Charleston. The Bruins deserve justice.

(7) The adults running South Charleston and Hurricane High Schools - Do the right thing and show some leadership and accountability no matter how unpopular it is within your communities. You have some good kids - we know because we presented one with a state award last May, but a bad decision has to be answered. Tough love is not a bad thing.

Enjoy the Fab Four Weekend.

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