Pay for Play
When you hear the word valor, you think of heroism, gallantry, courage, and in the case of High School Sports, sportsmanship. If you live in Denver, Colorado, it has a much different connotation; theivery, and cheating.
As expected, Valor Christian (is that an oxymoron?) beat up on Pine Creek (66-10) this last weekend in the 4A championship game. I can't recall a more lopsided victory; it looked like the Colorado Buffalo's (the National Champ version of 1990, not the powderpuff 2012 version) beating up on on the tiny local schools of Wray or Holyoke Colorado.
In their previous divisional playoff game they pummeled Castle View High School 54-7. It wasn't even that close as they invoked the "mercy rule" and ran the clock and started putting in the "scrubs" in the second half.
Sour grapes? No. I live in the U.S. which is based on good ole fashioned capitalism, but should capitalism apply to high school sports? Apparently, Valor reads a different bible than the one I read as a lad in Sunday school because everything is fair game in the name of winning a game or in their case, "loading" a football team.
Relatively new (opened in 2007) on the Denver High School scene, Valor took in big bucks ($93M) to build a campus that rivals the in-state University's and apparently used the same approach in sports--the best team money could buy.
Saturday was their third straight football championship in as many years. Everyone in Colorado that doesn't attend Valor cheer against them as if they were the Oakland Raiders or Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Denver's local news station, Channel 7 ran a story on the team's questionable recruiting practices. The Colorado High School Activities Association's rule 1900.2 says "no school representative shall recruit any student or solicit or encourage any other person to recruit any student." Accusations surfaced that
Valor officials were approaching athletes at a 2010 track meet. Local coaches are fuming mad.
Denver's heroic Ed McCaffrey (retired Denver Bronco) has two kids that play on the Valor football team and Ed is rumored to have some role in either recruiting or coaching. While Ed's kids have his genes and deserve to go to school wherever they live, is it fair to have a college equivalent offensive line open up holes that even today's Mike Ditka could ramble to the end zone?
One of my boys played on a 13 yr. old team with a kid who always "took it to the house" who's already talking to the evil empire. Something doesn't feel right about that.
I've been on the coaching end of playing the dynasty when one of my boys was in flag football. The "Warriors" hadn't been scored on in two years and being a new team, I got the scraps. My kids were crying in the huddle when we played them the first time and got trounced. Our rematch in the final game of the season we pulled off a miracle and beat them on an interception at the end of the game. Ironically, I used a Mike Shanahan (with benefit of Ed Mac) playbook to slay Goliath. Today, there was no miracle for Pine Creek or pebble in David's sling.
Ironic this last weekend as Oklahoma State nearly eek'ed into the BCS National Championship fueled by T. Boone Pickens funded Cowboys. I understand money is part of college sports, but High School? As they say on ESPN, "C'Mon Man!" Let's leave capitalism in industry and have parity and fair play on and off the field in high school sports.
Author's footnote: Valor's website announces the former Colorado Avalanche Stanley Cup winner, Stephane Yelle has been added to the hockey coaching staff. Here we go again...