The I in Team

BonneSo, as it turns out there most certainly is an I in team. For the most case, sports teams have defined positions for everyone. Pitcher, catcher, goalie, quarterback, point guard, etc.. and it usually all makes sense- until it doesn’t. As reflected in the case of a Los Angeles high school girls basketball team whose unsanctioned support for breast cancer awareness got it banned from a high school tournament. The top seeded, Narbonne High School “Gauchos” from Harbor City, California wore jerseys with pink letters and numbers as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Along with their coach Victoria Sanders, the team thought to extend their support by wearing the jerseys again during their run up to the state championships this month.

Those of you with teenagers know full well how difficult it is to shake them from their self absorbed perch at times. It isn’t easy to convince a young person that the world doesn’t revolve around them. When they make a decision to support strangers, afflicted with a possibly deadly disease no less, it gives them a sense of authentic pride. Sadly, their bold statement was met with consequence as they were initially thrown out of the post-season tournament all together. City Section officials had ousted Narbonne from competition because it violated a rule that prohibits teams from wearing their official green, gold, and black school colors. Huh?  How’s it go? No good deed goes unpunished.

Narbonne had worn the same uniforms in a quarterfinal win over University High without complaint. But an assistant section commissioner in attendance at the View Park game noted the violation there. Fortunately, an appeals panel said it reinstated the team as an attempt “to meet the spirit of the rule and place kids first.”

This isn’t Victoria Sanders’ first infraction, btw. She was cited last year for allowing a ruled ineligible player to suit up in the next game.So, the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) decided to lay the wood to the coach, and thereupon punishing her team. They wiil still suffer consequences as their coach has been suspended for the remainder of the season as part of a trade-off that allowed her team to continue. That means she cannot guide her team in the title game or in the state playoffs. Also, the girls’ basketball program will remain on probation through next season and the school will not be allowed to host a girls’ basketball playoff game at Narbonne’s home court in 2016.  Narbonne moms and dads pack up the SUV, if your team advances, you’re going on a few road trips. Sanders said that she can accept it. I can’t.

The I in team is influence. It can be used for good, and not so good. The impact (Oh, there’s another I) of the CIF decision on this group of young women is a lasting one. I’m not excusing the coach who should’ve requested a waiver to change her team’s uniforms. I don’t know what she was thinking. I also don’t know what the CIF was thinking either.

Narbonne fell to Palisades High in the section championship game by a score of 60-56.

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