Ephemeral Victory

A Sports Illustrated story. Synopsis. A South Pasadena High School pole vaulter thought she won a meet and league title for her team on her final vault until the Monrovia coach pointed out she had a string friendship bracelet on which is against the rules. The pole vaulter was disqualified on the technicality, giving Monrovia the victory and league title.

I’m going to guess this was what the Monrovia coach was thinking upon seeing the bracelet. “We got em’. Victory is ours.”

Here’s an alternative idea. Let’s assume that none of the South Pas or Monrovia girls are going to become professional tracksters. And let’s assume that in ten or twenty years few people will remember or care about who won the meet and league title. And let’s speculate on how the Monrovia coach might have processed things had he been thinking more like an educator.

Specifically, what if he had asked, “What’s the take-away for my athletes if we claim victory based on the technicality? What is it if we refuse to stake our claim to victory? Which is likelier to result in classy adults?”

Or what if he had quickly huddled up with the team and asked them what they thought they should do? “Coach,” I’m betting they would have said, “let’s go congratulate them on their victory.”

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