The Moose Jaw High School Football League is continuing to kick ethics to the curb, using tradition as a mask for the 3A league’s unfair regulations.
In a recent league meeting, they decided not to change their rule of throwing out the standings in the championship game. If one of the three Moose Jaw teams is in the final playoff game, they will host the match whether or not they sit ahead of their opponents in the standings.
“We have a 60-year tradition here,” says Larry Segall, commissioner of the 12-man league and Moose Jaw Athletics. “It has worked and we aren’t going to bend it for everyone.”
There is no denying traditions are important in sports.
But if a tradition gets in the way of ethics, shouldn’t it become extinct? After all, isn’t teaching students fair play the main point of high school sports?
The seven-team league claims keeping the gate revenue in Moose Jaw is another reason to keep the championship game there.
But since the game will be held in a different city if Moose Jaw is not playing in it, that theory seems to have some holes in it.
Yorkton Regional High School senior boys football coach Roby Sharpe questioned their reasoning even further.
“We have offered to give the league all the admission funds from the game if we were to host it,” says Sharpe. “We also offered to pay for the other team’s travel expenses. They didn’t seem to care for our offer, though. I’m sure the other teams would do the same.”
Let’s call a spade a spade. This isn’t about tradition. It isn’t about gate revenue. It is merely about Segall and the three Moose Jaw clubs skewing regulations in their favour to give them an unfair advantage if they make it to the big dance.
The other four teams in the league – Yorkton Regional, Swift Current, Weyburn, and Estevan – would vote to change the rule, but they don’t really have much of a voice. To pass a new regulation in the league, there has to be a majority vote. As a rule, if the four clubs voted together, they could win majority votes over the three Moose Jaw clubs. However, the commissioner also votes in the MJHSFL, which is rare in organized sports. So unless the four other clubs convince a Moose Jaw team or the commissioner to vote in their favour, they can’t pass anything.
“We just want everything to be fair,” adds Sharpe. “I don’t think we are asking for too much.”
Sharpe isn’t asking for too much. But that’s the problem, he shouldn’t have to ask in the first place.
One could argue home-field advantage might not mean anything in the end, especially if a Moose Jaw team earns the spot in the standings.
However, this is much larger than a home-field playoff game. It is an issue regarding the example left by some of the coaches and the commissioner. They are teaching these young athletes that if put into a position of power – it’s okay to disregard ethics. Not to mention, how can they expect fair play on the field if they don’t use it in the boardrooms?