WHEELING - By now everyone has heard about the situation involving members of the South Charleston football team. The Black Eagles, who are attempting to win their third consecutive West Virginia Class AAA state football championship, face the possibility of losing their chance at history following an ugly scene in last Friday night's 30-26 victory against Hurricane.
Several players from both teams were ejected, and officials decided to call the contest rather than complete the final 14 seconds. Per West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission rules, a player being thrown out of a contest warrants his/her sitting out 10 percent of the team's schedule, which in football is one game.
That one game, just so happens to be a rematch of last season's Class AAA title game between South Charleston and Brooke, which will be played at 1:30 on Saturday at Laidley Field. And that one game, just so happens to be for the right to play for the title again next week.
South Charleston quarterback Tyler Harris is taken down by Capital’s Austin
Broussard (62) during their meeting Sept. 24.
File Photo by Craig
But here's where it gets interesting. The suspended players include 2009 Kennedy Award-winning quarterback Tyler Harris, as well as receiver Perry Henry, the Most Valuable Player in last season's state championship. Apparently, the parents of four of the five children in question hold the belief that the game of football is more important than the game of life, because they've filed a court injunction that will allow said players, thanks to a judge's decision, to participate this week.
Now before you assume I'm merely being a homer and would like nothing better than to see the Bruins skate through to the championship, know that I would be writing about the situation if it didn't, at least on the surface, involve one of our area teams. And believe me, I'll sleep at night whether Brooke wins or loses Saturday.
I'll give South Charleston coach John Messenger some credit for saying he'll accept whatever punishment is doled out. And remember, it's the parents - not the coach - who has filed the injunction.
But if Messenger, South Charleston principal Michael J. Arbogast and the school board want to send a message, and send the right one, they'll bench those players regardless of the court's decision. You hear coaches talk all the time about their jobs being more than simple Xs and Os. It's about molding boys into young men, they say.
With the eyes of their entire state focused on this situation, here's a chance for the South Charleston administration to prove to not only its program, but all others watching, that taking responsibility for your actions is an essential life trait.
It shouldn't be this way, but it has fallen squarely on the administration's shoulders because the parents are willing to turn the other cheek in the name of potential victory. That's a shameful act.
We wonder why this world has turned so cruel and ugly? It starts with the parents.
Speaking of turning the other cheek, the whole thing could have been avoided if the kids did just that. Spare me the excuses and theatrics about who started what, because it doesn't matter. Everyone who participated should be sitting on the sidelines, court injunction be damned.
The right message has to be sent, and it has to be clear: there's no room in sport for thuggish, boorish behavior.
I'm guessing that part of the argument will gather support, but the following will be met with cries of foul. But here it goes anyway: Harris should not, I repeat not be rewarded for his actions with another Kennedy Award.
To be honest, I had him No. 2 on my ballot prior to this debacle. He's no longer anywhere to be found as I have yet to turn it in to officials.
Personally, I don't care if the kid ran for 3,000 yards, threw for another 3,000 and scored 100 touchdowns. The Kennedy, if it's to be taken seriously from this point forward, needs to be about more than who has the best stats or plays on the best team. It needs to stand for teamwork, integrity, and above all else sportsmanship.
Nowhere in that description - granted, it's my own and therefore open for debate - does it mention committing a selfish act and possibly hanging your team out to dry in its biggest game of the season.
The South Charleston administration needs to send a message by benching these players. The sports writers need to send a message by voting with conviction.
Both points need to be made - loud and clear.
Shawn Rine can be reached via e-mail at Rine@theintelligencer.net