The National Post's (Canada) article, Coaches' call to throw game 'poor decision,' sheds light on the all too common "winning is everything" attitude seen in our own sports environment here in the U.S. It appears that two coaches for the Westwood Warrior High School hockey team "made a strategic call that reverberated beyond the rink: They took out their goalie and deliberately lost the game."
Their reasoning centered on putting the highly ranked Warriors in a position to compete against a less capable opponent in the upcoming playoffs; thus, giving them an easier route to advance. According to the article, the scenario went something like this:
"Four different games were going on at once in the MTS Iceplex arena last Thursday and through texting and word of mouth, the Warriors knew that if they beat the team from College Jeanne Sauvé, they would have to play the Oak Park Raiders -a rival top contender in the league -in their next match. If they lost the game, they would go on to face a lesser opponent."
Controversy over this decision ensued as some parents and community members supported what the coaches did based on the fact that no "black-and-white rules" were broken. Yes winning, or in this case giving one a better chance to win, can cloud the ethical compass of just about anyone - even parents.
How did the principal of Westwood, Mike Wake, feel about all this? Well...he suspended the two coaches for the rest of the season stating, "It goes against the spirit of the game." It is nice to see someone whose ethical compass is still working, however, this was not the end of the story.
Upon the completion of the game, Mr. Wake noticed the reactions of the players (and some of the crowd) to the situation that played out. It was not one of jubilation and excitement but more of distress and shock. So what does a person in authority whose ethical compass is on target do in a situation like this? He gives ownership over to the players and asks them how they feel they should proceed.
Their take on it:
..."'We'll give up our semi-finals spot and play a sudden death game [against the Oak Park Raiders].'"
WOW, the athletes knew the right thing to do, and knew how to rectify the situation - now that's character!!!
The Warriors ended up losing that playoff game based on the decision they made, however, they left the tournament with something much more valuable intact - their integrity!!!