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These coaches are idiots

May 12, 2010 - Mike Mathison

I have been a track and field fan since age 9 when I ran for the Boys Club team in El Cajon, Ca. Some 40 years later, I still enjoy watching kids race their hearts out and then spill their guts after a race.

I love watching relay teams get after it and the anchor leg running someone down.

The one thing I really hate about track and field is the fashion police. I have yet to figure out why the 4x4 relay team gets DQ'd because the third runner has on a while Under Armour shirt while the other three have on black. It has nothing to do with their performance.

I also cannot figure out why a simple piece of jewelry really matters. Well, if you call this jewelry.

A South Pasadena High School girl pole vaulter was recently disqualified because she was wearing a friendship bracelet (made out of string) when she cleared 7-foot-6 to win the Rio Hondo League championship against Monrovia High School.

According to reports, after she cleared the bar, the opposing coach called her on a technicality -- you can't wear jewelry during a track and field meet.

"This is my 30th year coaching track," Monrovia coach Mike Knowles said. "I know a lot of rules and regulations."

Section 3, Article 3 of the National Federation of State High School Associations -- is clear: "Jewelry shall not be worn by contestants."

Breaking the rule results in disqualification from the event.

"I said, 'Coach (Knowles), you really want it to come down to this?' " South Pasadena coach P.J. Hernandez said.

When Laird found out she had been disuqalified because of her string bracelet, she cried.

"It wasn't so much that I had been disqualified, personally," Laird said. "It was that I had just lost the league championship that my coaches and teammates had worked so hard for ... I had just lost it with this little piece of string on my wrist."

"Mike Knowles was down by the pole vault pit, kind of waiting and sitting there, keeping an eye on our girl, waiting for her to attempt the vault and then make the call, " said Hernandez. "I am upset that he wanted to win so badly that he would do it that way. We feel sportsmanship is important, too, and that it is in question with him in this situation."

Knowles denied he ambushed Laird.

"I didn't notice the bracelet until after she cleared the height and walked by," he insisted. "(I had) a sinking feeling for her. I didn't want to have to do it. But it's a real rule -- it's in the book -- not something I made up. About 10 years ago, I had a girl who wore an earring in the 4x400 relay and it ended up costing us a CIF title. I feel bad for what happened, but I guarantee you she'll never wear jewelry during a track meet again."

Is it sportsmanship or gamesmanship?

Is it the letter of the law or the spirit of the law?

Both coaches are wrong.

Knowles should have kept his mouth shut because you know he would have kept his mouth shut if Laird has missed three times at the height.

Hernandez is wrong because he should know the rule and it should have been addressed with the team at the beginning of the season.

Before Laird cleared the height, she made an aborted run down the runway. Knowles was there and I would venture a guess he saw the stringed frienship bracelet then.

And, Knowles, if your answer really is, "But you've got to teach the kids that rules are rules" then you'd better be perfect.

You better go 25 in a 25, 55 in a 55 and the correct speed on the freeway. You'd better come to a complete stop at all stop signs and you'd better use your turn signal each time.

Because, after all, rules are rules.


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