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To win without honor is no win.

May 27, 2014 - Michael Palmer
I don't know if you have seen the commercial were the officials in a game call out of bounds off of a certain player, then during a timeout the kid tells his coach that he touched it last and wants to do the right thing. He then goes and tells the official that he was the last to touch the ball.

The commercial by Values.com - The Foundation for A Better Life poses an interesting question.

When the game is on the line we find out what kind of character we really have. In the heat of a championship basketball game a young man makes a decision that affects his entire team. He saw a bad call that went in his favor and didn't just take it, he tried to correct it.

Would you change the call if this happened to you?

If you ask a certain Garaway head coach and player the answer is, “No.” This high school student knows and will always know the truth, as does the catcher for Harrison Central who was just inches away from the swing when a clear miss on strike three was mistakenly called a foul tip. (It was obvious to several sports staff members in the office when they saw the replay on the TV sports broadcast.)

The sad part is that one blown call by a plate umpire influenced the outcome of the game and quite obviously gave a clear advantage to one of the teams on the field.

What would have happened if this player admitted to the umpire she had clearly struck out? Would she have came up two innings later and smacked the game winning home run? We will never know.

All of the great defensive plays made by her teammates, the sliding catches in the outfield and two fantastic plays by the third baseman for the Pirates – all are tainted and meaningless because of the way the game ended.

In Garaway's defense - it was not their team making the calls, but as the first paragraph illustrates, doing the right thing and winning fair and square has to be more important than winning by any means.

If coaches are molding young lives and teaching life lessons through sports, then this would have been a golden opportunity to show by example that honesty and integrity should be priority one.

I do not blame the player because I can not say definitely if she was aware of the blown call, although her actions implied that she was, this time the blame falls on the plate umpire. She did play a great game and did indeed hit the ball over the fence on the very next pitch, a tough assignment under the pressure. I do know that the thrill of that moment will forever be tarnished and that is a shame.

I don't want any letters from angry Garaway fans or parents, again I repeat that I place no blame on the coaches or players from Sugarcreek, it was just disappointing to me that the spirit of sportsmanship lost in this exchange.

I will add that if a previous call by the same umpire had not been incorrect, this play would have never occurred. I was positioned down the first base line and viewed the play through a 200mm lens which gave me a clear and most likely better view of the ball bouncing in front of the plate on a bunt and never coming within 6 inches of the runner as they came out of the batters box and down the line. While it was not necessary, the runner did react to the ball and hop, all after the ball had cleared her path and rolled forward.

The Huskies had a fine season and it was sad to see it end on this type of controversy, especially for the seniors.

Harrison Central coach Don Bethel took the high road and said, “Obviously, there’s no way to know whether we would have prevailed after that inning, or whether Garaway would have come back to win anyway,” Bethel qualified. “But that being said, both teams deserved an even shot at determining that themselves, rather than one benefiting from a clear mistake.”

I understand that it is not the coaches or players role to interpret and call the plays. You could argue that the coach correctly asserts that you should not argue with the ref and just play the game.

In reality, regardless of the player admitting to striking out, since the home plate umpire did not see it that way, and doubting that he would admit to the error, the call would most likely stand anyway.

With that in mind, honesty on the part of the player and coach would most likely have yielded the same result. So why my outrage?

I question if this type of behavior is promoting the positive values that are so tragically lacking today and that are certainly not being taught enough in schools and at home? In my opinion the two runs on the scoreboard were not the important points made in this game, the point about honesty was the only one that matters.

The point of this blog is: you can always do the right thing, or just go with the flow and reap the benefits of incompetency, either way you will remember it 25 years later.

 
 

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