By Richard S. Cropp
August 15, 2005
I would like to take this opportunity to apologize for my conduct in the ending seconds of Friday's game. I would also like to point out the event that triggered my behavior. During the game I had one player speared in the stomach by a ball carrier that led with his helmet into a tackle. I also had a player hit after running out of bounds. THe final straw however occured when one of my players recovered a "squibbed" kick with 40 seconds remaining in a game, was lying on the field in a fetal position protecting the ball, and then he was hit by no less than 3 Juneau players. The first and absolute foremost job of an officiating crew is to ensure a safe game environment. All three of these events happened in the open field clearly in view of the officials. Two of them happened within 10 feet of an official looking directly at the play.
I was not upset over the losing score. I have coached during two seasons where we did not win a game and had no such problems. I will however say that anytime an officiating crew fails to protect players from either team, I will protect them. Indeed last season I had a player on my own team who committed a similar penalty. Again, he was not flagged for the penalty. I however immediately removed the player from the game and asked him to permanently leave the team. I would not expose any player, either one of my own, or a player from another team to a player who refuses to safely play the game. We spend the first 3 days of every season teaching and drilling every player to ensure they know how to safely block and tackle. Any player who cannot do so is not allowed to play in a game. I insist my players do this and I have a right to insist opposing teams players do also.
I should also point out that under section 9-8-1 of the NFHS Football Rules, the official was not allowed to eject me for a single occurence. My behavior certainly warranted a flag and a 15 yard penalty, but no ejection is called for on a first and only offense.
I would like to especially apologize to Richard Thombaugh, the official that in the end was forced to flag me for my outburst. I do not believe he saw the play that I was so upset about and having known Richard for 4 years I certainly owed him far more respect than I gave him. I would like him however to ask his fellow officials about the event. One official admitted to seeing the infraction and yet did not take any action, another official, who clearly saw the play, started laughing when I came out on the field. I would also ask Richard to reference his rule book and upon finding the ejection to be unwarranted, that he would write ASAA and inform them that he made a mistake and that no lawful ejection occured. Furthermore, a comment was also made, by an official, that I should serve a 2 week suspension for the ejection. The very form used to report an ejection specifically states that an official is not entitled to give any opinion on whether a suspension should occur or any punishment for that matter. The official is simply allowed to report the facts at hand.
In closing, I am certainly sorry for the breakdown in self-control I showed to my players and their parents. I am most of all sorry for giving such a hard time to Craig Ring, Lester Silva, Richard Thombaugh, and Ken Montero, the officials for the game. I am however not apologetic in any way, shape, or form for insisting that an officiating staff in any sport place a very high priority on protecting our players. In future games if such an event shall occur, I will call a timeout and ask for a conference with the officials. Any further inability of the officials to control the safe conduct of a game can only result in good players getting hurt by players who are either improperly coached or refuse to safely play the game.
Richard S. Cropp
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