There were no cascading lateral plays. No running back with the ball knocking over the other team’s tuba player. No field goal splitting the uprights.
Instead of a memorable finish, the Arcadia Apaches vs. Temple City Rams high school football game ended in a tie Friday night, after a mid-field meeting of the referees at the end of regulation resulted in the officials walking off unceremoniously and saying they don’t work overtime, according to a coach who was there.
Even after both football coaches agreed to play an overtime period to break the tie, the referees said they wouldn’t work anymore, according to Temple City High coach Anthony White. So that was that. The game ended in a tie. A tie is not satisfying to players and fans; in fact, in football lore, a tie is described as like “kissing your sister.”
The players left the field shaking their heads. The fans – stunned – booed the decision and eventually filed out of the stadium disappointed, the score knotted after regulation, Arcadia 28, Temple City 28.
Though ties were common enough years ago, this is unheard of in contemporary American football, where the two teams, 11 on each side of the pigskin, play hard until the best team wins. This isn’t soccer, where draws happen all the time. This is the gridiron, where the victors get carried away on their teammates’ shoulders and the losing team comes back to try again another day.
This is Friday-night lights, where boys prepared by practicing in triple-digit Valley heat, where fans – proud moms and dads, aunts, uncles, grandpas and grandmas, sisters and brothers – pay to watch the two squads play their butts off until the cheerleaders’ final back flip.
This isn’t a politically correct version of duck-duck-goose where everyone who plays “wins.” These are young men who train to play hard, play fair and try to win. When they don’t, they accept defeat as a tool to make them stronger and with a sportsmanship tip of the helmet to the opposing team.
But the referees took those lessons away from these boys from Arcadia and Temple City, neighboring rivals. And for what? For not wanting to work another half hour?
We thought the CIF, the organization that oversees high school sports in California, was better than that. We used to think San Gabriel Valley football was better than what happened Friday night between two rival teams. In fact, it is, judging by the way these teams played – competitively, excitingly and with heart.
But like the infamous Major League Baseball All-Star Game in 2002 that was allowed to end in a tie because no one cared enough to play to the end, this one left a bad taste. This Arcadia-Temple City tie could leave a not-so-flattering mark on San Gabriel Valley football like that All-Star game left on professional baseball. That’s no reflection on the Arcadia and Temple City players and coaches who wanted to finish the game.
The only way to make it right at least for them is to allow them to play the overtime period at a later date. That way, the teams can get out what they put into their efforts. That would be doing the right thing.
Are the CIF and the officials game?