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I wrote lots of words for this week’s print edition of Washington City Paper about the sorry hand DC Public Schools football players have been dealt.
The adults who run athletics for DC’s high schools do the poorest job of running a league that I’ve ever seen. Nobody comes close.
Forfeits come in bunches in the city’s public schools league, DCIAA, and it often sounds like the grownups in charge go out of their way to find reasons NOT to let the kids play ball.
One example: Coolidge administrators backed out of a game with Bishop McNamara a few weeks ago claiming they couldn’t find security guards to work the game. They made this declaration at 11 a.m., meaning they all gave up trying to get the game in at least eight hours before kickoff.
A week earlier the same Coolidge officials said they couldn’t play against Carroll because of an earthquake that took place three and a half days before the kickoff.
Nobody else in the region used the earthquake as an excuse for not showing up.
How messed up is that? I grew up in Falls Church, about six miles from the D.C. border. I’m certain that out there any grownups who showed just once the level of incompetence and disregard for the kids that DCIAA officials show week after week, year after year, would be publicly humiliated and unemployed.
Why o why do D.C. residents let this city’s kids get treated like crap?
More DCIAA buffoonery will be on display tonight, when Dunbar plays DeMatha. League administrators have set up a forfeit-friendly situation by reinstating a rule that allows fifth-year seniors to play sports in DCIAA. That rule was carelessly inserted by Michelle Rhee early in her tenure as DCPS chancellor.
I know of no other public school league in the country that allows fifth-year seniors, so-called “redshirts,” to play high school ball.
Every athletic league in this area, including the WCAC, DeMatha’s league, prohibits its member schools from scheduling games with teams that allow fifth-year players. Rhee said she would remove the rule after finding out it made DCIAA schools persona non-grata with outside confederations. She never followed through.
One DeMatha official I spoke with said WCAC leaders were unaware that DCIAA allowed redshirts until it was too late to do anything about the Dunbar game.
“We thought we were playing a team that was adhering to a four-year policy,” a DeMatha official tells me. “We thought the rule allowing five-year guys was gone. But I think [WCAC officials] understand the people at DCIAA are having a hard enough time walking and chewing gum these days, or just chewing gum. So, yes, even though when we agreed to play we thought it was a team that played only four-year guys, we did agree to play, and we know the teams want to play, so we’re not going to not play. We’ll play the game.”
Unless Dunbar can’ t get security guards, that is.