My Side of the Plate: Honesty sets an example

You have to admire Coupeville High School in setting an honesty example for its student athletes.

For those of you not familiar with the situation, the Wolves had an academically ineligible player on their football roster that slipped through the cracks for the first five games this season.

During that stretch the Wolves went 2-3, winning non-league games over La Conner 49-14, and coming back the next week blasting Concrete 34-0.

Since then the team has fallen on hard times losing four straight league games by an average of more than 22 points.

So who would care if the team had an ineligible player on the roster?

I’ll tell you who — Willie Smith, Coupeville’s athletic director, along with head coach Ron Bagby and his staff.

When they discovered what had happened, they turned themselves in!

That’s right, they made a telephone call to the Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association office and reported what had transpired.

Folks, that takes a lot of courage.

Truthfully, admitting to the rule violation was the easy part. The hard part was telling the players that instead of being 2-4 in 2007, they were now winless at 0-6.

The action taken by Coupeville’s staff just proves another of my adages, “If you can’t be honest with yourself, you might as well hang it up.”

During the course of my journalism career, I witnessed a few situations where schools and administrators weren’t so honest.

I won’t name names or point fingers but if someone from those schools reads this column, they know doggone good and well who I’m writing about.

The first involved a football team who had an ineligible player or players on the roster all season long.

That particular team won the league championship and the state title before someone found out what was going on and blew the whistle.

Naturally, they were stripped of their championship titles but guess what? The trophies sort of disappeared before being returned — never to be seen again.

Then there was the instance where a basketball player, a foreign exchange student to be exact, who played for a team that won the league title and then advanced to the district tournament. The kid was a star and without him, the team he played for was pretty mediocre.

His team won the first two games and was ready to play for the district title, when someone figured out something was amiss.

It seems the kid played four years of high school basketball in his home country so he had no eligibility left and on top of that, he was also too old.

As a result, the whole district tournament had to be redone. The kicker was, the kid lived with the host school’s athletic director and he knew what was going on all along!

Even though honesty cost the Wolf Pack a couple of football victories, I think people will be able to sleep a lot better than if they’d sat tight and done nothing.

One thing is certain, there is going to be a bunch of future adults who played football for the red, black and white in 2007 who know what it means to be honest and responsible citizens.

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