A Long Island high school football coach has been suspended for essentially having his players play too well during a game.
Rob Shaver was coaching his undefeated Plainedge High School Red Devils in October against the Southside High School Cyclones, another undefeated team. Shaver’s team ended up winning 61-13, a win that the ruling body for high school sports in Nassau County called “lopsided,” according to a rule instated three years ago.
The policy mandates any coach winning a game by more than 42 points must explain in writing how playcalling or strategy was adjusted to help keep the scoring down for the rest of the game, such as taking out the starters.
The governing body decided that Shaver took too long to take out his regular players, and suspended him for one game. It was the first time a coach had been suspended under the rule — and some in the town were not happy with the decision, saying it sends the wrong message to the students playing.
“I do understand that they have rules in place, but ultimately we want our children to be challenged,” said Sisi Thompson, a Plainedge School Board member.
The superintendent of the North Massapequa school system released a statement saying the coach was done wrong by a “kangaroo court.”
“What are you teaching children by saying play fairly but now you are playing too well, don’t play anymore for the rest of the game. Where’s the life lessons?” Edward Salina Jr. asked in a statement he released.
A member of the ruling body defended their punishment, pointing out other kids who don’t typically get to play in a game deserve a chance to get on the field.
“Not only do we not want to embarrass the other team, but if I have kids — second and third [string players] — why shouldn’t they get a chance to go in the game,” said Pat Pizzarelli, an official for the high school sports association.
“Kids get discouraged getting beat like that, so I get that point,” said Jim Szlabnik, a grandfather of a student at the school who supported the ruling.
Over the weekend, Plainedge played the game Shaver was suspended for and won by 35 points, even after taking some unusual steps like punting on first down in some situations, to help keep their score down.