The story lighting up talk shows and the blogosphere this morning isn’t the meltdown of LeBron James and the Cavaliers against the Celtics. It isn’t the pending re-vote of the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award following Brian Cushing’s positive test for a masking agent. It isn’t even the release of the Maxim 100 or Playboy 3-D cover.

It’s the efforts of a 30-year high school track & field coach here in southern California that has us captivated. And, it’s an event that occurred on April 29.

The coach of the Monrovia High team, Mike Knowles, vanquished by South Pasadena after a successful pole vault, called shenanigans following the try and had the winning vaulter disqualified. The move gave Monrovia its first league title and added to Knowles’ resume.

His offered quote of “I know the rule book” as a justification isn’t sitting well in the blogosphere and leaves me just shaking my head.

Compete hard. Work hard. Practice. Sacrifice. Work your body into an efficient machine … and don’t forget to memorize every line of the rule book. Your chemistry and calculus problem sets and that 10-page evaluation of Hamlet will have to wait.

You can say that the South Pasadena coach should have caught it before she headed out to make her winning vault. The coaches at South Pasadena obviously should have spent those extra practice minutes drilling on such rules and abhoring the virtues of obvious performance enhancers instead of teaching and refining technique. The fact that they didn’t notice, nor did the official at the event. tells you all you need to know about the importance of this rule to the overall competition. But, hey, it’s on the books, right?

I do need to find a complete copy of the rulebook, as I’m curious as to whether there’s a clause about shirts being tucked in or socked rolled properly or color coordination, hairstyles/clips, etc.

Are you trying to tell me that this string gave anybody an advantage? Are you worried that they’ll suddenly be shilling for a company at A HIGH SCHOOL TRACK MEET? Are you worried that someone will put on an obscene message for this highly visible event?

Asinine. Inane. Petty.

But, in the end, he can claim another title … gave the kids stories to tell at cocktail parties forever & us something else to blather about here and on the airwaves.

I just have a couple follow-ups …

Does he get more cash for reaching an incentive clause in his contract?

If there had been a cross or other religious or charitable designation on the bracelet, or what if she competed and paid homage to a family member or friend who couldn’t or had passed away?

Does Coach Knowles get one more step closer to a high school coaches Hall of Fame by adding another trophy to the case? After all, he’s listed as having won nine CIF-Southern Section championships, three CIF State championships and one national championship in his coaching career. Now, he adds this league title.

I must add that every reference to the national championship uses the term “mythical” to describe it. I’m most curious as to what that means.

Is this Knowles’ effort to get his career back on track following his dismissal from Muir High School (The Mustangs) in 2008 , the place where he piled up the credentials referenced above?
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I get that we’re taught to be disciplined and play by the rules. I get that.

I just look at it as if the South Pasadena vaulter had given herself a small disadvantage by wearing the bracelet (miniscule extra weight, potential for a getting caught on the pole or whatever) and that if I were the Monrovia coach, I’d have wished she’d dressed as Mr. T for the competition. Wear all the jewelry you want … hell, he’s a special Flavor Flav clock that I purchased for the occasion!

Take the win, coach, and whatever spoils that come with it. Now, put the rulebook down and figure out how to get your girls to vault just a tad higher for State.

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Participation Trophy, The Watercooler

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