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Christian Principles and Youth Sports Apparently Do Not Mix

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Back in October I wrote about a good guy and a great coach named Kevin Keane, who got politically blackballed by the Dallas Parochial League. In working that story it became disgustingly obvious that DPL athletics fall somewhere between sorely mismanaged and downright corrupt.

In the months since the column ran, I’ve received a steady stream of DPL-related complaints, mostly from parents angry over officiating, favoritism or even charges of a misappropriation of funds by the DPL board. Pissed-off parents with an ax to grind I generally dismiss. You can find them on any field in any league in Dallas. But when an undefeated basketball team of 11-year-olds has its season aborted, my ears perk up. Yours?

“These kids got cheated,” says Scott Armstrong, a volunteer booster and father of a player on Parish Episcopal’s 5th Grade Boys “Red” team. “They practiced hard, played fairly and did absolutely nothing wrong. Then they weren’t allowed to play in the playoffs. As parents we don’t have good answers for them. They don’t understand. How can they? The DPL is making up rules as it goes along. It sends a horrible message. One that is the exact opposite of the Christian principles we’re supposed to be teaching them.”

Pride. Covetousness. Lust. Anger. Gluttony. Envy. Sloth. The latest sin goes like this:

As one of the largest of the DPL’s 31 schools, Parish attempted to register three 5th Grade Boys teams back in January. Three teams with eight players is better than two teams with 12. More playing time. More individual teaching. Common sense, no? Apparently not.

Realizing too late that the DPL allows only two teams per school, Parish officials were forced to both downsize and morph. The result was a “Red” team that started the eight-game season 7-0 and a “Blue” team that started 1-6.

On basically the eve of their last game -- and with the playoffs looming the next weekend -- Parish athletic director Brad Moore got an e-mail from DPL AD Theresa Mosmeyer stating that, because it had been determined that Parish illegally “stacked” its teams, both would be banned from post-season play.

That, despite the fact that the “Red” team’s point differential was on par with three other undefeated or one-loss teams in its division. And despite the fact that the St. Monica’s 5th Grade Girls teams that finished 7-1 and 1-7 went unaffected.

“It was determined that the rules weren’t followed,” says Mosmeyer. “We have ‘Spirit of the League’ rules voted on by the ADs every year and posted on our Web site. Through tryouts or whatever, teams are supposed to be split evenly. We rely on the ADs to ensure that happens, but apparently at Parish there was some miscommunication. Whoever split those teams obviously wasn’t aware of the rules. Why that wasn’t communicated to the parents or coaches properly is the $64,000 question.”

Parish AD Brad Moore, clearly the one being tossed under the Greyhound here, failed to return multiple phone calls. Armstrong says that if the teams were divided unevenly, it was pure happenstance rather than sinister strategy.

Mosmeyer contends that she alerted Moore of her “stacked” concerns after Week 4 of the season.

“But by then the mistake was made,” she says. “We talked about re-splitting the teams and all sorts of alternatives, but none of them were ideal.”

And therein lies my beef with DPL. As in Keane’s case, the kids are considered nothing more than collateral damage. Ideal? You’re telling me there wasn’t a better option than totally canceling these kids’ seasons?

“I hate doing it,” Mosmeyer says. “But the DPL is run based on what’s best for the majority. Sometimes that’s not the best for a single team. But it’s worked for 47 years.”

Armstrong says he and Parish's parents are appalled by the decision. By the fact that Mosmeyer refused Parish’s official appeal (she says time wouldn’t allow one). And, mostly, by the fact Mosmeyer ignored his request to come to the school and help explain the devastating decision to Parish’s children.

“We’ve got heart-broken kids, some in tears,” Armstrong says. “And for what? Enough is enough. It’s time for parents to speak up about the DPL, because injustices are truly happening.”

Mosmeyer claims she never received an invitation to speak to the teams.

“I would’ve been happy to,” she says. “That you can no longer play -- that your season is over -- isn’t an easy thing for a child to hear.”

And even more difficult for some of us adults to understand. --Richie Whitt

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