March 19, 2009

"Obscure rule" used on Native team

A correspondent writes:Dear Rob,

I stumbled across this news on Yahoo's page, just moments ago. 'Thot I'd like to know what the "obscure rule was."  Imagine my stunned feelings at the closing remarks by the reporter...despite the fact of a prior "dunked ball heard in the locker room"?
This whole attitude, including the writer's remarks of "learning life's hard lessons," smacks of attitudes pervasive in American society, which puts Native Americans into a niche shaped like bitter-root expectations of federal Indian policies. 
This issue (and article) sounds like a flippant remark and really frosts my fry bread. Why aren't Mount's questions addressed? SESG
The article in question:

Pregame dunk costs team playoff game

Ray GlierThis was a "teaching" moment that comes up for high school coaches from time to time.

You know, one of those, "We just got a bad break, and that's life, we have to deal with it."

On March 5 in Cut Bank, Mont., Isaiah Martin, a 5-foot-11 senior guard for Harlem's boys basketball team, dunked during warmups for a high school tournament game with Shelby.

There was a shower of glass as the backboard shattered.

Harlem had to forfeit the game.

According to the Montana High School Association, dunking is not allowed in pregame warmups in tournament play. If a backboard is damaged by a pregame dunk, the offending school must forfeit. The rule was put in 10 years ago.
Here's another article on the subject. Read both articles to get the full story.

Backboard, Harlem's title hopes shattered

Comment:  The "obscure rule" is presumably that breaking a backboard while dunking during pregame warmups is a forfeit.

Several critics of Coach Mount focused on this passage:Mount said he told his team no dunking in pregame warmups, but when he got to the tournament there were other teams dunking in pregame. He told his kids it was OK.I read this as Mount stating his wishes because he didn't want his kids showboating or whatever. Not as Mount knowing the association banned dunking during pregame warmups but deciding to let his kids do it anyway.

If he knowingly let his kids break the rule, that's a different story. Then we'd have to get into what the penalty is for dunking during pregame warmups and why Mount chose to risk it.

For the sake of argument, let's assume Mount didn't know there was a rule against dunking during warmups. It's more interesting to discuss it that way.

Forfeit = "on-the-job training"?

As for the article's final line:His team's forfeit was just some more real-life, on-the-job training.I suspect writer Ray Glier was trying to be sympathetic with this line. He probably was thinking something like, "Poor kids...getting some real-life, on-the-job training they didn't need or deserve."

The article does note some of Mount's questions about the rule's implementation and the previous dunk. But you're right, SESG...the final impression left by the article is that you have to accept adversity and there's nothing you can do about it.

I'm not sure Glier could've gone into more depth without losing his journalistic objectivity. That's what bloggers like me are for. <g> But if I were Mount, I certainly wouldn't have told the kids just to accept it. I would've asked a lot of questions and told the kids not to accept it unless there was no other choice.

Among the questions to be asked: How uniformly is the rule applied? Are there any exceptions to its application? Why is the penalty worse for a pregame dunk than a game dunk? Why penalize the kids, especially if they didn't know the rule? Is it possible to waive the penalty? How about penalizing the school by forcing it to buy a new backboard but letting the kids play?

Penalize coach, not kids

If Mount knew there was a pregame ban on dunking, how about penalizing him for it? Kick him out and let the assistant coach lead the team a la Hoosiers. Really, you should think hard about penalizing the kids unless they knew there was a rule against dunking and they knowingly violated it.

If it were me, I might have "accepted" the forfeit after I threatened to go to the media and online and protest how "my kids" were being hurt by an unfair and arbitrary rule. Let the tournament share the suffering if it's into making people suffer. I suspect that would've produced results. If it didn't, then I would've told the kids about how life is unfair.

Again, if Mount knowingly violated the rules, the situation would be different. Then the lesson would be, "Your coach is an idiot who really screwed up and let you down." And not, "Life is tough and you have to roll with the punches."

Again, we're assuming Mount didn't knowingly violate the rules. In that case, it's wise to remember what Captain Kirk proved in the Kobayashi Maru test. You rarely if ever have to accept a no-win situation. If Indians such as Tecumseh, Crazy Horse, or Geronimo were in the same position, I suspect they'd agree.

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