Piss on you, officials

BY NATE WHITNEY | MARCH 26, 2009 7:30 AM

Remember back when you were a kid and you were upset about bedtime being too early or not being able to go on the big kids’ roller coaster at Six Flags? Maybe you were one of those kids who was pissed at your parents because they wouldn’t let you eat cake and ice cream for breakfast.

Then the inevitable question came to your lips; “Why?” You legitimately didn’t understand the reasoning behind your mom not letting you ride your bike to the McDonald’s drive-up window or allowing you to sleep on the roof. The two responses that would always come were the ridiculous and uninspiring cop-out (“Because I said so”) or the more typical response: “Because those are the rules.”

Rules are important, in childhood, at work, in sports. If for no other reason than keeping order, but also so that the country is protected from high-school basketball uniforms with stripes that are simply too large.


North Lawndale College Prep’s boys’ basketball team was good enough to get to the class 3A Illinois state finals this past weekend. By all accounts, it had a great season and a great team. Unfortunately for the players, they lost that last game. Maybe they lost because they didn’t box out well enough, or their offensive rebounding was weak, or maybe they just weren’t as good as the other team.

Problem is, no one will ever know.

North Lawndale was assessed a two-shot technical foul before the tip of the game, because an attending representative of the Illinois High School Athletics Association pointed out — wait for it — that the team’s uniforms didn’t prescribe to the rules. They were illegal uniforms. The problem? The stripes on the sides of the uniform were an inch too wide.

You can’t make this shit up.

The opposing team, Champaign Centennial, got two shots, sinking one for one point.

Champaign Centennial won the game, by a single point.

Champaign Centennial’s coach didn’t point out the uniform error. His staff didn’t. Neither did any of the other opposing coaches in any of the other games that North Lawndale played in this year, despite the fact that the very same uniforms were worn in every game, all season long.

But it was a problem, evidently, in that last game. Enough of a problem to cost the Lawndale players a legitimate shot at fairly winning (or losing) the final.

So there’s a lot of blame to be passed around regarding this exercise in stupidity. We could blame the coach for not knowing the rules (some media reports have claimed that North Lawndale’s uniforms were illegal last year as well). We could blame the uniform manufacturer for allowing the team to purchase illegal uniforms, let alone being dumb enough to make them. We could blame the athletics association official who felt that this horrible, fiendish, blatant disregard for rules had simply gone on long enough and couldn’t possibly go another game without being addressed.

I tend to focus less on who to blame for screwing these kids over. I’m wondering how the kids from Champaign Centennial feel. Most are likely just happy they won, but do any of them wonder if that point truly helped them? Do any of them feel robbed or unnecessarily aided?

No blame game here, at least not from me. The question I have is why. Why are we so concerned about stripe width on a high-school basketball uniform? Was Tim Gunn a consultant for the National Federation of State High School Associations when it drew up the uniform rules? Were the officials concerned about causing epileptic seizures on the opposing teams? Was there 30 days budgeted to compose a set of rules, and on the 29th day, after exhausting every avenue of play and considering all their options, the officials responsible for the rule book decided to dick with the book — you know, just for shits and giggles — and create guidelines for something that has little to no relevance in regards to actual play?

Rules are important. They should be followed. Even the dumb, pointless, irresponsible ones. It’s just too bad for fans of Illinois high-school basketball that the 3A contest was, essentially, decided before the game clock even started.

Interestingly enough, according to the interwebs, an old law in the city of Champaign prohibits an individual from urinating into his neighbor’s mouth. Yes. I’m sure there’s a big problem with that.

We needed that law.

Of course, who needs your neighbor to do it when the athletics association is around?

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