Friday, December 6, 2013
The ruling came down from the Maine Principals' Association on Thursday
regarding the Dexter-Foxcroft overtime game. For some background, check
out my first blog on this game here:
The ruling was written by Shannon Whiting, the MPA's rules interpreter.
(I mentioned my encounter with Whiting in my other blog.)
In her ruling, Whiting writes, "Player deliberately entered the field
without following proper substitution procedures and thus created the
situation of too many players on the field."
Whiting also writes, "The lead umpire had blown the whistle for a foul,
which was going to be for penalty corner when the trail umpire when the
trail umpire immediately followed with a whistle of his own to indicate
there were too many players on the field. Entry of illegal substitute is
an illegal and unsportsmanlike act. The umpires met and ruled that since
the call on the field was a penalty corner, they would penalize the
illegal substitute on the field with a stroke, and removed the player
from the field."
Under the "basis for ruling" Whiting also quotes "Situation: 10.1.1
Situation A: A penalty stroke should be awarded for any deliberate foul
by the defense."
Whiting also differentiates between a deliberate action and having a
reaction to the play.
My take (and you knew my take was coming) is that first of all, there
was no penalty corner. I watched the play again on Tim Throckmorton's
newscast on WABI Thursday evening, and the ball was not inside the
circle, and was not the kind of foul outside the circle that results in
a penalty corner.
Plus, as I said before, neither official gave a penalty corner signal.
To not mention this in the ruling is hindering our quest to an accurate
resolution, rather than helping it.
Also, I have no idea why Ms. Whiting is referencing a rule that calls
for a foul on an action by the defense. Dexter clearly had possession
when the whistle was blown.
Let's overlook that. As for the "deliberate action" well, unless you
know that Dexter was trying to play with an extra player, I don't see
how you can make that call or use it as a basis for a ruling.
Several times over the years, I've seen a substitute (usually an
inexperienced player) run onto the field too soon. I've never seen a
penalty stroke called in that situation. I've even seen officials
witness this, and they may laugh and say something like, "Whoa! Hold
on." Then play goes on.
And what is a deliberate action, anyway? Did the extra player
deliberately go onto the field? Of course.
But how about the third-party infraction? That's when a player impedes
someone from the other team from getting to the ball, like a pick in
How about when a player turns her back into another player for a foul?
How about when a defensive player intentionally hits the ball past the
end line in the circle?
Aren't all of these "deliberate" actions? Yet the first two result in
just a change of possession, and the third results in a penalty corner.
None result in a stroke, nor should they.
You could argue that the above scenarios are reactions to a play. But
isn't that just a silly distinction? I'm left to conclude only that the
officials either made a misinterpretation of the rules or correctly
followed a dumb rule that shouldn't be in the book in the first place.
Look at the penalties in other sports for having too many players on the
field. Imagine a tie football game with 5 seconds left, and the defense
has 12 players on the field. What if the ball was moved to the 7-yard
line for that penalty?
Have a consequence for the mistake, sure, but don't give someone the
electric chair for making a mistake on their tax return.
One thing I still don't understand is why the officials were looking at
the rule book and discussing the play after the game was over. Say
you're cooking a meal, and it needs to go in the oven for an hour, only
you can't remember if it's supposed to cook at 350 degrees or 425.
Do you cook in the oven for an hour at 425 and then look at the recipe?
Of course not. You make sure you have it right, while there's still time
to do something about it.
And in the end, that doesn't matter. Whiting quotes another rule: "RULE
4-3-1: Decisions based on judgment of an official are final and not
subject to review."
So that's it. We've all lost, folks. Obviously I feel sorry for the
Dexter players, coaches and fans. You know who else I feel sorry for?
The Foxcroft players, coaches and fans.
The Foxcroft girls played an outstanding game against a team that had
beaten them twice during the regular season. They obviously played their
hearts out. And through absolutely no fault of their own, their regional
title now has a big asterisk by it. It's a shame.
Yes, we've all lost folks. Two good officials got caught in a bad
situation, and we were all deprived of a non-controversial ending. We
all make mistakes, and we all hope ours don't have bad consequences.
This was a situation that shouldn't have happened, and hopefully, will
never happen again.
Gary Hawkins has worked at the Kennebec Journal since 1980. His primary beats are baseball, boys basketball, girls and boys soccer and golf.