Red Right 88

Cleveland sports fan and sports writer

Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

quit my job decided to drive west

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Keep the coach in a cage or you don't get paid

I am not a fan of the OHSAA. Like any large political organization, logic often flies out the window when it comes to making decisions.

I have said over and over, the practice of handing out individual medals to the losers of sectional, regional and state finals is cruel and barbaric. Some suit gets to stand at half court and pass out medals to devastated kids who just had their dreams shattered. If there must be a ceremony, give the runner-up trophy to the coach and then let the kids get back to the locker room to grieve. Let the medals wait until a school ceremony in a few days so the kids can be celebrated for what was achieved, rather than be forever tainted by a horrible memory in being humiliated in front of a standing room only crowd.

And I have plenty to stand on my soapbox with, but instead I will share with you something the OHSAA has become quite good at, taking a good idea and hammering it into something silly. Here it is, direct from their website.
“In an effort to increase sporting conduct by basketball coaches this year, the OHSAA Board of Control adopted a new bench (Coaching Box) rule which created a 14' box…Officials and Head Coaches have been instructed that failure to have a coaching box marked will create a situation where NO coach may stand during the game.”

It continues.

“Head Coaches and only Head Coaches are permitted to stand and coach. The Head Coach must remain in the coaching box. When the Head Coach is out of the box and "just coaching" the coaching box rule will be enforced as follows: First Offense - warning and return to box; Next Offense - technical foul. When the Head Coach is in or out of the box behaving inappropriately (10-4) the coaching box rule will be enforced as follows: Technical Foul. Assistant Coaches do not have the same privileges as Head Coaches. Assistants must remain seated during the game. The officials will warn the Head Coach if an assistant is standing in the box. Any subsequent violations will be penalized with a technical foul and an indirect technical foul assessed to the Head Coach. Coaches who continually abuse the coaching box rule risk having the OHSAA remove the box completely. Officials who fail to enforce the coaching box rule risk having penalties assessed by the OHSAA including, but not limited to loss of tournament games. School Administrators must see that floors are marked according to rule, demand that coaches adhere to the rule and officials enforce the rule.”

And for the kicker.

“Note - As of this posting, six officiating crews have been reprimanded and placed on probation for failure to enforce the bench rule. Three officials have been removed from tournament considerations.”

If you know me then you know how I feel about assistant coaches who stand or yell at officials. I say T’em up. Who made you the head coach? Sit down and know your role.

So I am not against that at all? But don’t officials have enough to do, then to make sure they are overzealous in supporting this rule. If they don’t, they could lose some big paychecks during the tournament season. Trust me when I tell you it is only a matter of time before a game is decided because of a technical called on a bench, that in any other season would have never been called.

“Wait, we lost because the assistant coach got thirsty and got up to get a drink of water.”

There should always be a gray area. An example happened recently when a college officiating staff gave a technical to a coach who had fainted. They believed they were being showed up. When he was carried off on a stretcher, that should have been a sign that maybe they were wrong. But the technical stood. There isn’t doubt in my mind they believed they were following some rule. Then their conference in a p.r. move made scapegoats out of them.

A distracted official is often a bad official. A crew has enough to deal with than being worried some suit is in the stands worrying about a box rather than their ability to manage a game.

This weekend I saw an official spend more time staring at an assistant coach then he did watching the game. He got to give his warning and then just waited for a chance to prove he was doing his job.

This OHSAA mandate is wrong and bad for the game. They took an idea that had some worth and twisted it into the worst kind of rule, a rule for rule’s sake.

Coaches no longer vote for officials to determine playoff assignments. Some believe this has allowed a certain percentage of officials to become more confrontational. Just like some kids try to behave like the NBA stars they see on television, maybe a few officials are trying out the spotlight unlike the majority who are in it for the love of the game.

Just like it would not be far fetched to think some tournament officiating assignments are made out of personal or political agendas, one has to wonder if this Gestapo warning could be misused to punish officials not part of the good old boy partnership.

Regardless, the OHSAA should be about the kids. What does this have to do with the kids?

Here is how the OHSAA closed their prime directive.

“Coaches, officials and school administrators must work together in order to provide student athletes with an educationally rich athletic experience. Rewards await those who ‘do it right’ and penalties will occur for those who ‘do it wrong.’”

And the OHSAA is just wrong.