One of the teams that qualified for the Class A state baseball tournament should have been placing the championship trophy in the school trophy case this week. Instead the tournament is on hold while lawyers go to bat in court.
The Wright City Lumberjax played too many games this season. Their coach acknowledges as much. When the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association found out about the violation, just a few days before the state tournament, it said Wright City would have to forfeit its quarterfinal game. Wright City cried foul and went to court.
A judge in McCurtain County granted the team an injunction, placing the Lumberjax back in the tournament. The OSSAA appealed the ruling to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which presumably has better things to do. Three Class A quarterfinal games were played last week; now everyone waits.
The OSSAA has been before the state Supreme Court previously. In 2005, the court upheld the OSSAA's two-game suspension of a Shawnee quarterback who was ejected from a playoff game for kicking an opponent in the head. That case delayed the playoffs for about three weeks.
This should be cut and dried: break the rules, you lose. But the OSSAA may have muddied the waters in 2011 when, after initially issuing a ruling that would have kept Guthrie's football team out of the playoffs because of a violation, its board reversed course and instead suspended only the coach.
Wright City is asking that its kids not be made to pay for the coach's mistake. Given the precedent, this argument holds a little more water than coach Kyle Butler's contention that the two scrimmages his team played between rounds of the playoffs wouldn't benefit the Lumberjax at state. If not, then why play them?
Wright City's players are in a tough spot. But so too are the players for the remaining Class A state tournament teams, whose coaches did follow the rules. Nothing about this is fair to them.