Why couldn’t Monrovia just, “Do the Right Thing.” Who wants to win a title on a technicality, especially on something as silly as this …

This thread is running in Miguel Melendez’s Star-News blog, I just had to share it with you. Apparently Monrovia called a South Pasadena pole vaulter for wearing a friendship bracelet, which cost South Pasadena the league title … read on…By the way, shouldn’t high school officials remind participants to take off jewelry before events start? If you’re a coach (from any school) and you see this, shouldn’t you walk up and remind the person to take that off. To me that’s sportsmanship, not waiting until the end of the competition to call someone on a technicality that you probably knew all along that you could call at anytime.

Deadspin’s reaction from this story was harsh, so harsh in fact I couldn’t print it, but read on with caution if you wish.

Even Sports Illustrated chimed in:

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.

Our Keith Lair covered the event:


There likely will be very little friendship when the South Pasadena and Monrovia high school track and field teams meet next time.

That’s because a friendship bracelet decided the Rio Hondo League girls title.

With the pole vault deciding Thursday’s dual meet, Monrovia needed at least a second-place finish to claim its first league title.

South Pasadena’s Rachel Ma and Monrovia’s Samantha Boltz and Gabby McBride all cleared 7-0. South Pasadena’s Robin Laird, the Tigers’ best pole vaulter, passed at the height.

With a crosswind and both teams watching, cheering wildly on makes and groaning on misses, Laird easily cleared 7-6. Monrovia co-coach Mike Knowles pointed out Laird was wearing a friendship bracelet. Any jewelry calls for automatic disqualification. The coaches called CIF-Southern Section officials to confirm the disqualification.

“I hate that,” Knowles said. “I didn’t want to do that. I’ve lost a CIF title because a girl had one diamond earring she forgot to take out in the 4 by 400 relay.”

Laird’s disqualification gave the Wildcats a 65-62 win.

Migue Melendez’s take: Winning at all costs? I’m not a fan of it, and in this particular case I was not a fan of how Monrovia won the league title. Clearly, Laird won the event in dominating fashion. According to the Sports Illustrated report, South Pasadena coach PJ Hernandez asked Monrovia coach Mike Knowles “you really want it to come down to this?” I know, rules are rules, but c’mon. Really?

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  • New York

    Fred,
    You should really rephrase your question to something more appropriate, such as: Did the officials interpret the rule appropriately? Was the final ruling appropriate?

    Placing blame on Coach Knowles or on “Monrovia” is inappropriate. I don’t think Coaches have the ability to make the final ruling, do they?

  • FredJ

    New York, the rules were interpreted correctly, but in the “spirit” of the rule, coaches should do the right thing and warn participants that they would be in violation and subject to disqualification if they wore jewelry during competition, or any other similar ticky tack rule like this that punishes athletes so harshly. In my opinion, if you knew when the event began that an athlete was wearing something illegal, and you held that as sort of an “ace” in your pocket only to draw it when you needed it, as was the case here, that’s not in the spirit of what high school sports should be about. I like Mike Knowles, have known him a long time, but I don’t agree with how he handled it.

  • SGV For 30 Years

    I really don’t see the problem. The Monrovia coach should have never had to catch that. I think the South Pas coach is should have been reminding his athletes about their jewlery. That’s been a rule for quite some time. There was a relay team from LB Wilson that set a National Record in the 4×400 relay. They got disqualified right after the race because an official saw that one of them had a tongue ring. The South Pas. young lady should have been disqualified as soon as she stepped on the runway. Who ever the starter was should have caught it. So Miguel it’s not “winning at all cost” it’s just following the rules. You shouldn’t try to make the Monrovia coach the bad guy for following the rules. What about all the other atheletes who weren’t wearing jewlery?

    SGV430 Ouuuut!!!!!!!

  • New York

    Hold on Fred. Where does it show that Knowles knew about this potential infraction and had a chance to warn this girl prior to the event taking place? Why would he have been concerned about this particular vaulter until the end of the meet?

    Also, in line with your argument about the “spirit of the rule”: I agree with taking an approach to interpretation with regard to the spirit of the rule, BUT who is there for interpretation? Judges/referees are supposed to interpret rules.

    How did Knowles handle it? He pointed it out to an official. Then, the officials made the ruling. I suppose the officials could have overuled and then left it open to appeal. I suppose it is still open to appeal.

    I don’t like the outcome, but singling out Knowles is wrong.

  • Always

    Fred didn’t we cross this bridge with Rowland and West Covina a few weeks back?

    INTEGRITY IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN EVERY ONE IS WATCHING !

    Thought every one knew that!

  • anonymous

    What’s with all the negativity towards Monrovia and Coach Knowles? This wouldn’t have been an issue if it didn’t have any bearing on the championship. And because it did affect the outcome, people are now outraged. Track officials made the final ruling and not Knowles. Who said that he knew of the bracelet before her vault? Also, track athletes had been disqualified all season long for the same violation. Why would this have been an exception? Laird and her coaches know the rules. Maybe somebody from their team should have warned her. I don’t think that’s Knowles’ job!

  • FredJ

    New York, it was the last event of the day and they all knew the situation …. I know rules are rules, I get it, but to me this is the kind of rule that does not have a direct outcome in the event. If it was me, I would not have protested, I would have told her that when CIF starts the following week, officials will disqualify you if you wear that friendship bracelet. To me, that’s doing the right thing. You’re right in that you can’t blame Mike, I’m just saying I would have handled it different.

  • mvs

    THIS ISN’T A STORY!!! Here is a lesson: KNOW THE RULES! Why is the focus on knowles and not hernandez? She was his responsibility.

  • pete

    Fred:
    What is the big deal? There is no story here. She broke the rule and the officials agreed. Am I missing something?

  • lori

    How do we know that the officials didn’t catch the infraction as well? People keep throwing this at Knowles, but the blame should have gone to Hernandez. The “right thing to do” was to check all your athletes before the meet. I believe that other track athletes had been disqualified for the same thing during the season. Why would this have been any different?

  • ST G54

    @ every single track meet & invitational I have been involved in as an athlete & coach, players are warned before the start of each event about wearing jewelry, even more-so when it comes to league pre-lims, finals & invitationals not to mention C.I.F. Playoffs.

    The blame falls on no-one but the athlete wearing the bracelet. She should know a whole lot better than to be wearing that, especially this late into the season.

  • rog

    The key element here is that Knowles know how it feels to lose a championship because of a rules violation because it happened to him. The part that makes him such an ass is he remembered how terrible it made him feel but he sure as hell did it to someone else when it benifitted him….

  • Happens all the time

    rog what were the details in that one?

    didn’t a team lose the opportunity to even compete one year because the uniforms didn’t match? I think it was a relay event. Fred am I wrong about that? Any one recall the details in that one?

  • Anonymous123

    I find it funny that Miguel’s take on this situation describes South Pasadena winning at the time in domination fashion, since when is a couple of points either way dominate?….90% of the bloggers from the west and from the east (except for the die hard South Pas fans and maybe a few Biggots) simply dont agree with you guys nor do they agree with SI. Maybe you should interview the coach’s and maybe even the Ref then come back and write an unbiased story on what really should have happened……..Stay up Fred!

  • question

    I understand rules are rules but do the athletes jewelry make the opposing athletes perform differently? Did her cloth bracelet make the other girls not jump as high? or the tongue ring make her opponents fall? I don’t get it—pro players have the god-awful hair hanging out of their football helments or the thick bling bling chains around the necks of baseball players that the sun can reflect on in an opponents eye of the fans in the stands waiving white rally towels making players lose sight of a baseball….it’s maddening…know the rules follow the rules and you don’t need to worry about this but for gosh sakes don’t take your victory on a techicallity like this…she smoked everyone and is the champion for gosh sakes. her bracelet didn’t make her jump higher.

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