Deadspin weighs in on jewelry snafu, and it’s not pretty

There are well over 32,000 views on this particular topic at, the edgy website responsible for posting drunken photos of Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton and compromising photos of former USC quarterback Matt Leinart. The headline alone tells you where one editor stands on this issue: Awesome Track Coach Wins League Championship By Disqualifying Girl For Friendship Bracelet.

Recap: South Pasadena’s Robin Laird thought she won meet April 29 with final pole vault. But opposing coach pointed out she had string friendship bracelet against rules. Laird was disqualified on technicality, giving Monrovia the victory and league title.

Dashiell Bennett, contributing editor at, would have handled it this way:

… You could have taken her aside at any point of the day and said “You know what? That’s illegal. You should probably take that off.” If you truly didn’t notice the bracelet until after the vault–which let’s be honest, is highly unlikely, since that happened to be the most opportune time to act–you were not required to say anything. You could have still taught her the rule, while also teaching her another lesson about sportsmanship and magnanimity. No one believes that you feel bad, because if you did, you would have kept your mouth shut.

She broke a rule. Not a real sporting rule, like a foot fault or illegal equipment, but she did break one and if you’re okay with winning that way, be my guest. Your own athletic director said it was nothing to be proud of, but it’s a rough world out there, isn’t it?

There feelings here in the newsroom are mixed, one former track writer siding with Mike Knowles, saying rules are rules and must be followed to the last detail. I’m all for rules, too, but my gut tells me this all could have been prevented one way or another, no matter what way you look at it.

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  • New York

    Like so many things in life, the unintended consequences of rules pop up all over the place.

  • edgar

    What a loser this coach is! You may know a lot of rules and regs when it comes to your sport, but unfortunately you whiffed on taking a potential loss like a man. Nice life lesson there coach!

  • Brad

    Winning on a technicality that does not affect performance is a a-hole move. But to fight technicality with technicality is a thread braclet really “jewlery”? All the dictionary definitions refer to precious metals and stones.

    If it had been a sweatband would it have been illegal? If a terry cloth band is not jewelery then a thread bracelet isn’t either.

  • New York

    Blame the umpires who interpreted the rule or blame the CIF for the rule itself. Don’t blame a coach for bringing the infraction up to the umpire for interpretation. I don’t think the coach has the power to make the final ruling.

  • BigFatFan

    I understand that ESPN radio Dan Patrick covered the story on the radio today, and ABC and Channel 9 are coming out for interviews at SP campus today. this story has also gotten legs on CNN and USA Today too…

  • anonymous

    Why do I get the feeling that this isn’t all about Miss Robin Laird, but all about the fact that it affected the outcome of the meet. I would bet that this wouldn’t have been an issue had South Pasadena been way ahead or way behind in points. Miss Laird would have been disqualified, and nobody would have cared. Why isn’t anybody asking what the heck the South Pas coach was doing just before she vaulted? It was the last event of the meet and everybody was watching. Shouldn’t he have been there to warn her of her impending rule violation? Quite frankly, he had all afternoon to tell her. Kids have been diqualified all season for such violation. Why should this have been an exception? Then that would have been unfair to the others.

  • featherhead

    While it’s the coaches job to help his team win, it seems to me that the line of sportsmanship has been crossed here. The coach validates his decision by saying he’s lost championships the same way… looks like he didn’t learn much from the experience except that pay-back is a batch. Too bad but this isn’t goning to play well for the Cats

  • What???

    I’m pretty sure that there were track officials there to enforce the rule. A coach can’t make the final call.

  • anonymous

    Quit the crying already!!! The track officials made the final ruling, not the monrovia coach. Blame the south pas coach who apparently was asleep at the wheel.

  • New York

    This is more along the lines of the winning at all costs accusation…

  • Dan

    Where was the South Pas coach? At the snack bar? They tell all the coaches before every meet to check their athletes for jewelry. Also, miss Laird knows the rules. She’s heard it all season. I’m sure she wasn’t wearing it in her other meets.

  • Someone who knows

    As I mentioned in the other thread, things like Livestrong bands and friendship bands have been ruled by both the NFHS and the CIF as jewelry for all sports.

    If an official was made aware of this type of infraction and ignored it, that official may not to get to work some of the important meets such as Masters, CIF Finals, State Finals and the like. So the blaming the officials is a straw man too.

    There is a jewelry prohibition is all NFHS rule sets. Get over it and take off the stuff or don’t participate.

    Years ago at a League meet, the final tally came down to the 4 X 440 relay (yes in yards, that’s how long ago it was), and the top two team finished in a thrilling finish a good 30 yards ahead of third place. The wining team’s anchorman spiked the baton in joy and the second finisher threw down his baton in disgust and the starter DQed both teams for those actions. That was in the 1970s folks.

  • LW

    All this OUTRAGE is not for robin laird nor sportsmanship, but the outcome of the championship. If this final event had no bearing on the meet, NOBODY would have cared for the young athlete and for sure nobody would be crying about poor sportsmanship. MOVE ON !!!

  • wilson

    edgar: why don’t you take the loss like a man and move on. here’s a life lesson: KNOW THE RULES!!!

  • Are you kidding me?

    THIS ISN’T A STORY!!! She broke a rule and then she got disqualified, period. All you holier than thou who keep preaching about life lessons and poor sportsmanship, enough already. You would have done the same thing as the monrovia coach. And if you say no way, you’re a big fat liar.

  • coach

    There’s no debate the line of poor sportsmanship was crossed, it’s not debatable. Everyone knows the Monrovia coach made a chicken$hit move.. As for Are you kidding me? You’re an idiot no doubt.

  • v.m. smtih

    Shame on you, Coach Knowles, and shame on Monrovia High. You have embarrassed us all. This rule need not have been envoked. Your team does not deserve this championship and it will forever be tainted. You are disgrace to the concept of sportsmanship.

  • anonymous

    coach: It’s obvious with your language what kind of person you are. I hope you’re not coaching impressionable young minds. Yeah, and I’m sure you would have done the same thing as knowles. Don’t LIE now!!!

  • mrs. smith

    vm smith: Move on dear!!! This isn’t a big deal.

  • mr. wilson

    vm smith:
    Way to pass the buck onto monrovia. You should be questioning your coach for not paying attention. Nice generalization of the people of monrovia high. Way to go vm smith your mom will be proud of you.

  • Brad

    Okay let me lay it out for the “rules are rules” people who don’t get why Knowles’ behavior is repulsive to most.

    Some rules are to establish the terms of the sport. You can’t catch the ball with your hands in soccer. Why? Because that’s soccer. If you break “rules of the game” like these you would fairly be labeled a “cheater”. Cheaters break rules that establish fair play.

    Some rules are to prevent athletes from gaining unfair advantage. Rules like no steroids, blood doping or corked bats. Break these rules and you would again be labeled a “cheater” from the playground to the pros.

    But some rules are for player safety, aesthetics and uniformity. Helmets, pads, logos, matching socks and undershorts etc. So not wearing a cup may be against the rules in HS baseball. And if you don’t you are risking the family jewels, but most people would not call you a “cheater”.

    So in this case an athlete broke a rule that was intended to protect her, not a rule that establishes fair play. No one would look her in the eye and call her a “cheater”. But that is only where the injustice starts. Had an official noticed the braclet and DQ’d her it would have caused grumbling, but it would not make national news. It’s a shame when safety rules like this affect the outcome of the competition. It leaves everyone disatisfied. If it happens too often the rule, or the enforcment, gets changed.

    But an official didn’t notice on their own, Mike Knowles, flagged him down and pointed it out. Not for her safety, not to corect a violation of fair play, not to stop a “cheater”, but to change the outcome of the meet. And that crosses well into poor sportsmanship in most peoples book.

  • Realist

    If you look up jewelry in a dictionary it states that it is metal. I don’t know that a friendship bracelet even falls into the same category as jewelry.

  • Anonymous

    What a bunch of idiots and opportunist’s at Monrovia. i live in Monrovia and I am embrassed. What a shitty thing to do, to gain an advantage. Maybe win on the merits of the sports, I guess when you can’t you resort to some gasping for air approach. Hopefully you are in some critical position one day and you screw it up on some minor technicality and it screws you good!

  • Anonymous

    What a bunch of idiots and opportunists at Monrovia. Your AD should fire you on the spot and publicly. I live in Monrovia and I am embarrassed. What a shitty thing for you to do – to gain an advantage. Maybe win on the merits of the sport, ya think that would be a good thing to focus on! I guess when you can’t, you resort to some “gasping for air” approach. Hopefully you are in some critical position one day and you screw it up on some minor technicality and it screws you good! What an IDIOT!

  • Anonymous123

    Realist/Anonymous same person I bet.

    Get a real life. This cant be eating at you this much. I hope I dont see you on the ID channel murdering Wildcats. You are definatly not a Monrovian because if you were your little mind wouldn’t be so hurt over what happens everyday in the real world. Mistakes are made and sometimes the consequences are’nt always favorable. Ever get a ticket for not wearing a seat belt, or driving with tinted windows?…. well to some that can be petty but they will still get hit for it. Go drink Beer and go to the Arcadia baseball games and feel lucky to be alive.

  • Someone who knows

    Realist, obviously you did not understand both NFHS and the CIF’s take on jewelry and both Livestrong and friendship bracelets have been rules as jewelry.

    NFHS has taken a position for years, and continues to do so about student-athletes doing things that bring attention to themselves and jewelry in non-contact and individual sports are part of that philosophy, rightly or wrongly. That is why many uniform adornments like bicep bands, cut off unis, streamers, and non-white towels in football are illegal in HS football and others that use the NFHS rules set.

    If you have a problem with this philosophy, don’t play HS sports. Play club sport or AAU.

  • Someone who knows

    On another forum:

    >>>>Schools shall follow NFHS Rule 4-3-3!
    1. Prohibited! This bans all forms of jewelry including
    rope, leather bracelets and earring studs.
    2. Religious medals may be taped to the body (no
    chain), under the uniform.
    3. A medical alert bracelet is permitted if taped to the
    wrist with the faceplate showing. (Coaches must
    carefully monitor athletes with known physical
    4. Excessive safety pins on the jersey are considered
    5. Competitors may not have metal pins or hard plastic
    barrettes in their hair.
    6. The penalty for competing while wearing jewelry
    is event disqualification.
    7. A competitor who competes with jewelry hidden
    by tape will be disqualified from the meet. [Rule
    4-5-1], i.e., it is unsportsmanlike conduct unethical.
    8. By the 1994 rule change, watches are not considered
    9. Coaches aware of navel rings and/or other pierced
    body parts should not permit athletes to practice/
    compete without removing such items.<<<<< My comments: The problem I have is that it seem to be ignored all year by other coaches and officials. Second, unlike some of the other sports, the penalty excceds the crime. In baseball and softball, teams are given warnings, in football a player is often sent off to take care of it and any following (and sometimes the first), the player and HC are given a 15 yard USC penalty; and in basketball a "T."

  • To someone who knows

    How come no one is calling for all of Monrovia’s wins this year to be dq’d because Coach Knowles has not taken the required CIF coaches exam? All would return to normal. Rules would be followed and justice served. Why doesn’t coach call that rule on himself?

    The big differnce here is that the Started did not make the call. He had left the meet when he should have stayed until all the events were over. In most dual meets, track does not have paid officials at the field events. It is often teachers, parents, former athletes, or even current athletes that officiate. Maybe it’s time we treat track with the same professionalism that we treat football and basketball and pay for a full crew of competent officials. How would you like your teams league championship to be decided by someone who doesn’t even know the rules? A qualified field event judge would have gathered the athletes together and gone over jewelry, electronic devices and the major rules of that event. When a coach makes the call to win a meet in a dual meet, that is why so many people call this unsportsmanlike.

    Maybe a big positive can be gained from a negative by finally getting ALL sports to be properly treated.

  • Someone who knows

    The coaches exam situation is a completely different type of issue. That would also be a school, League, and CIF issue. Not a meet issue, per say.

    Don’t mix apples and oranges.

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