I’ve had the pleasure, and occasional frustration, of covering youth sports over the last decade or so. I’ve discovered one guarantee — adults will somehow screw it up.
Fortunately, a district judge was there to stop the latest example.
Here’s a quick summary. In its District 4-5A finale, the Atrisco Heritage Jaguars defeated St. PIux 24-15. However, the Jaguars needed a 10-point victory to leapfrog another team in a district tiebreaker. Parents contended the officiating crew incorrectly let the final seconds tick away, denying the Jaguars a chance to kick a field goal as time expired.
They sought an injunction to get their kids into the playoffs by creating a new playoff bracket that included Atrisco Heritage. District Judge Shannon Bacon denied the request on Thursday, noting the precedent it would set.
“Any kind of scholastic sporting team would say,” Bacon said, as quoted by the Albuquerque Journal, “if you disagree with the call of a ref or umpire or some other official that you don’t need to worry about it; you don’t need to live with the decision; that it is up to a court, ultimately, to decide that call, and that’s not the role of the court.”
• Precedent: I don’t think anybody in Tucumcari has forgotten the 2000 Class 2A title game against Eunice. Following a Rattler offsides penalty with 1 second left, the Cardinals were given an untimed down and kicked a championship-winning field goal. Tucumcari coaches, players and community members contended the rules did not allow for an untimed down, and Eunice wouldn’t have been able to set up a field goal and snap the ball in the time allotted. Tucumcari’s case was denied, and the blue trophy remains in Eunice. It’s hard to tell Tucumcari a field goal can’t be taken away on appeal, then 11 years later add a field goal for somebody else.
• Impact: I had heard few details about this case at first, and believed that the Atrisco Heritage parents wanted the New Mexico Activities Association to reseed the playoff bracket, and end up denying a playoff berth to another team; I wondered how you’d explain that a judge knocked you out of the playoffs.
But what the parents asked was that the Class 4A playoffs be a 13-team field, and the Jaguars would play one of the top four seeds, which receive a first-round bye. You know what, guys? YOU tell one of the top four seeds (Goddard, Valencia, Aztec or Artesia) it loses the first-round bye it earned, because a field goal wasn’t kicked in a game they didn’t play.
• Logic: There’s one more thing I’ve learned about sports — assume nothing, and that includes a field goal. It doesn’t matter whether the kicker hit more difficult field goals before. Ask Alabama how that worked out against Louisiana State two weeks ago. Ask Boise State how that worked against Nevada last year. And if your NFL team hasn’t ever let you down with a missed field goal, you haven’t been a fan for long.
I’m sure there are other reasons you can come up with, but it goes without saying that what happens on the field isn’t always fair. It’s not a judge’s job to correct that.