Editorial: Declined penalty may teach lesson
Maybe no punishment is the best penalty.
On Tuesday, the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League came to a couple of decisions about Connellsville and Allderdice.
The boys soccer teams from the two high schools became the subject of an investigation in September after they leveled allegations of racial and anti-gay slurs at each other.
On Monday, there was a hearing. There was testimony from players and coaches and administrators. The two sides had their say, and the WPIAL board of directors took it all into consideration.
When the verdict was delivered, the board said the allegations that Connellsville “goaded one black and one Latino” opponent, and physically touched in a way that was meant to “distract and intimidate,” were credible.
So were the complaints that Allderdice players levied anti-gay statements against Connellsville.
But no one will be punished.
“Rather, to their credit, both schools expressed a sincere desire to work together in eradicating the sort of unacceptable behavior their student- athletes are accused of engaging in,” the WPIAL said. “The WPIAL Board has thus decided to view the situation as an opportunity to educate and heal instead of punishing either school or their student-athletes.”
And if it works, that is good.
There should be more people realizing that you don’t win by making your opponent worth less than you. That the victory means more if the other person is as exceptional as you are. That you prove yourself worthy by engaging in a quality contest with those who challenge you.
The opposite of participation trophies isn’t a win-at-all-costs mentality. It is an arena where fair play is the rule and honor is the prize.
Maybe the kids — and adults — will learn through proposed diversity and sensitivity training. Maybe the lesson that didn’t sink in at Connellsville when a similar problem arose last year will take root this time.
A declined penalty acknowledges when something was wrong. It throws a flag or blows a whistle and says, “No. This will not be allowed.” But then the play carries on with the idea that sportsmanship should prevail. Let us hope that is what happens here.
Because maybe if these two teams learn that lesson, others can too.