Many People Are Looking Out For Athletes

John L. Braese

At a recent tournament involving two eastern Oregon teams, the Four Rivers boys’ basketball team downed Elgin, 105-13.

Following the tournament, fans of the tournament, not affiliated with Elgin or Four Rivers, reached out to EOS to express their displeasure with the game and to forward us complaints filed with the Oregon Schools Activities Association (OSAA). The complaints involved the Falcons continuing a press well into the second half and starters remaining on the floor after a substantial lead was built.

The OSAA has no rule governing scoring with the exception of the “mercy rule”, a running clock in the final quarter of play if a team is ahead by 30 points.

However, the governing body of high school athletics does reach out to schools and “remind” coaches and athletic directors of the goal behind high school athletics in Oregon. This was done in this game.

In full disclosure, EOS was not in attendance for this game. EOS is not questioning a coach’s decisions during the “heat of battle” or the players’ actions on the court. However, coaches and officials not affiliated with this game have discussed with EOS this particular game’s score and actions that could have been taken.

The OSAA did receive the written concerns and did take action. According to Peter Weber, executive director, Monica Maxwell, director of basketball, reached out to Four Rivers’ athletic director and superintendent.

“There isn’t a set score differential that we would consider egregious as there are many factors to take into account,” said Weber. “I haven’t seen any film of the game in question but running a full court press and playing your starters when leading by such a significant margin isn’t necessary or appropriate.”

Four Rivers confirmed the conversation with Maxwell and not only took action with the coach involved, but also extended their responsibility in the game to others.

“I am truly disappointed with the final score and agree that coaching decisions should have been made earlier in the game to prevent such a huge point differential,” said Tyler Swanson, athletic director of Four Rivers. “Sportsmanship has always been a major point of emphasis for my sports teams as Four Rivers. We failed to show that in Friday’s game.”

Swanson said the OSAA offered guidance on future games rather than focus on the one incident.

“Monica and we had a very good phone conversation about what transpired,” Swanson said. “She gave very helpful suggestions to prevent this kind of outcome in the future. I have had conversations addressing this with both of my coaches about this game with more to come in the future.”

Swanson also made a call to Elgin.

“I have also reached out to all the parties involved with the game and expressed my feelings and disapproval of my coaches’ actions.”

So in the end, maybe the score is not the story. Fans and parents with no affiliation to a team were so concerned they took the time to contact the governing body. The OSAA did put the time and effort to research the game and contact those involved, not to punish but to educate. Four Rivers accepted full responsibility and is conducting training with the coaching staff.

More important than what transpired at one game is the fact numerous people stepped up, were transparent and open and are working together towards a goal of this not occurring again.