Common Sense

Sometimes sports do reflect the general state of education, and this week is no exception. As Craig Smith notes, two possible WIAA state sports rules could be created and:

could be called “Archbishop Murphy Rules.” One would suspend a student who played with an expired physical but NOT the team for the number of games the athlete played. The other proposal would allow leagues the leeway not to penalize a team that used an ineligible participant because of an inadvertent error.

This rule change is being spurred on because Archbishop Murphy had a single player ruled ineligible when the school self-reported an expired physical, which resulted in the undefeated football team forced out of the state 2A playoffs. Normally, an ineligible player is a star and keeping a team afloat, thus the rule; however, in this case Terry Ennis, the head coach and athletic director, “was terminally ill when the physical lapsed and died days later.” The WIAA would not make any exception for the catastrophic and extraordinary circumstances.

Rick Reilly ridiculed the decision in a Sports Illustrated article saying:

The smallest-brained crustaceans are water fleas. The smallest-brained parasites are flatworms. And the smallest-brained mammals are the men and women who run high-school athletics in the state of Washington.

This mirrors decisions made in education in general. Instead of looking at cases, incidents, and behaviors in context or on a case by case basis, blanket rules and regulations are frequently made to expedite processes. Of course, justice is not always ensured and cases such as the Archbishop one penalize the innocent and do not look at mitigating circumstances. Behavior issues are an easy example of this, but there are others in the typical school day setting such as homework completion, arguments, policy making, and so on.

Here’s to hoping that more authorities, including teachers, look at cases one at a time and consider the context of situations rather than relying on blanket, black and white policies. The intents of precedents may be lost in meting out versions of justice if we do not take the time to administer decisions individually.

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