We have a high school here in Greensboro which enjoys a 25 game winning streak in football. In fact, they are last year’s NC 4-A State Football Champions. This is a school with a rich history in sports. If I have read the record correctly this season’s run for state 4-A football champs would be second in a row and fourth title in school history.
However, this year’s run for state champs found Dudley on the horns of a dilemma. You see, in their last game of the season the coaches brought up four players from the JV team to replace injured players on the varsity team. The problem is these JV players had played the night before and there is a rule in High School Athletics that a player can only play once a week. I understand that the one player who played for the JV team that night was involved in two plays in the last minute of the game. Southeast Guilford High School could have scored two TD’s and still would have lost.
Someone brought this infraction to the attention of the Dudley coach and he did as he should have, he self-reported the problem to the High School Athletic Association. They, in turn, quickly vacated the win against Southeast Guilford and tossed Dudley out of the running for the state championship. Dudley appealed this finding and the appeal was denied. They have now appealed to the full board. That ruling should come down sometime later today.
Here is something to consider: What was the intention of the rule not to allow a football player to play in more than one game a week? I imagine that it was for the player’s safety, not that it gave an advantage to the team with the exhausted player. So… if there was no advantage gained can’t we just say that no advantage was gained by Dudley and allow them to play?
Some will say we must follow the rules. Here are some silly rules (laws) still on the books in Alabama:Google Silly Laws on the Books of Alabama
- It is illegal for a driver to be blindfolded while operating a vehicle. (GOOD)
- It is illegal to sell peanuts in Lee County after sundown on Wednesday. (REALLY)
- Putting salt on a railroad track may be punishable by death. (KIDDING I HOPE)
- Boogers may not be flicked into the wind. (DUCK)
- You may not have an ice cream cone in your back pocket at any time. (NO WORDS)
- It is illegal to wear a fake mustache that causes laughter in church. (HA HA HA)
If we were to just follow the rules (laws) without interpretation or understanding we could really be in a mess – don’t have salt near the railroad, and for goodness sake don’t laugh in church.
All of this is to say employ grace whenever and wherever possible. Dudley no doubt has the best 4-A football team in the state for the second year in a row. Could there be people who would like to see that come to an end? Of course there are… but I hope not at the expense of the kids who did not do the wrong thing. In my book, Dudley is still the winner. When they found out they did wrong they stood up and self-reported. They are already champions.
Jesus was faced with a similar situation about rules and laws. Some men wanted to stone to death this woman caught in adultery. Jesus simply stated the fact: “If you are without sin, step up and cast the first stone.” One by one they all drifted away.
Later on today we will find out how the ruling turns out. I hope grace will rule the day for Dudley. I pray that grace always rules our days.
Dear Lord, touch me with your grace that I may employ grace evermore freely… In and through Jesus. Amen.
UPDATE: The ruling came down a little after noon affirming the earlier decision: Dudley is out of the playoffs. This time we found that there were infractions of the same rule during four games this year. The coach made a sincere apology for overlooking these errors. I guess now we live out the grace to make sure that all future kids have the opportunities to play in every sanctioned game.