Thursday, December 04, 2014

Douglass-Locust Grove game: Just Let It Go

It's the end of high school football season, and most of the divisions are in the final games of the playoff. This year, a Class 3A quarter-final game has resulted in a lot of controversy.

Last Friday, Locust Grove High School defeated Douglass High School (OKC) by a score of 20-19. With a little over a minute left in the game, Douglass scored a touchdown, taking a 25-20 lead. However, Douglass' touchdown was called back due to a sideline infraction penalty (their second of the game), and Locust Grove held on to win.

Problem is, that penalty was improperly enforced. According to National Federation of State High School football rules, the penalty should have been applied to the extra point or ensuing kickoff. As it was, the referee's bad call wiped out the Douglass score.

It didn't take long for things to go south. Security had to restrain outraged Douglass fans (allegedly, one of the referees was punched after the game), and the Douglass coach apparently cursed at the referees and the OSSAA and otherwise behaved like an immature jerk.

Douglass appealed the penalty to the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association (OSSAA), asking for the final 64 seconds to be replayed, and the OSSAA denied the request. Now, Oklahoma City Public Schools is suing, and got a judge to grant a temporary restraining order to keep the semifinal game from being played on Friday.

Now, we have a host of politicians weighing in on Douglass High's side: State Sens. David Holt (R) and Anastasia Pittman (D-OKC), State Reps. Bobby Cleveland (R-Norman), David Young (D-OKC) and Paul Wesselhoft (R-Moore), even former OU coach Barry Switzer. All of these elected officials and public figures are calling for the last minute of the game to be replayed. Sen. Pittman did a press conference with NAACP officials where implications were made that the Douglass team was the victim of racial bias.

Here's my take. I think we can all agree that the referee made a bad call. It's unfortunate that the call cost Douglass the game. However, this is football. Things like this happen every single game.

Hardly a game goes by where some penalty isn't called when it should be, or is called when it shouldn't be. Sometimes, referees make the most inexplicable calls. Remember the onside kick in the 2006 OU vs. Oregon game? Yeah, bad calls happen.

Football is like that. Life is like that. Sometimes, you just have to deal with it.

Instead, now we have bunch of politicians and a big metro school district trying to force a do-over. Can you imagine how many other teams would like to be able to do that? What kind of precedent do we want to set? Part of me wonders if the roles were reversed -- if the rural school was the team that got the raw deal -- if all these elected officials would be as up-in-arms about it. Also, do we really want to litigate high school football games?? Is that a wise use of limited education funds?

Everyone agrees that the penalty was messed up. But, Douglass High School coaches and officials could have taken the high road and used this as a character building experience for their students, and shown them how to handle life's 'curve balls' with grace and class. Instead, they're setting a different example.

Just let it go, and move on.

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