The Game is not over until SET files a protest

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StevenMunatones
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The Game is not over until SET files a protest

Postby StevenMunatones » Tue Jul 28, 2009 1:06 pm

The background of this post is as follows:

1. SET's 12U boy's team beat Huntington Beach Water Polo's 12U boy's team fair-and-square in the Orange County JO Qualifier tournament final in a shoot-out. The teams played a fair and competitive game that was entertaining to watch.

2. Huntington Beach Water Polo's 12U team beat SET's 12U team fair-and-square in the quarterfinals of the JO tournament 6-to-5 on a goal in the last minute.

3. SET's 12U team beat Huntington Beach Water Polo's 12U team fair-and-square in a replay of the quarterfinal match 5-to-4 with a goal in the last few seconds.

My problem is that this third game should never have been played in the first place - but I have learned the politics of water polo and SET's influence within the game.

These are the facts of the second game:

1. Both teams agreed to modify the rules and switch sides after each quarter.
2. This information was agreed to by the referees at the game who subsequently received approval from their supervisor/colleagues.
3. As a result, the team captains flipped for sides before the game Iand SET won the coin toss.
4. SET's coaches decided what side to choose (note: with the setting sun on a unprotected hillside pool, this was potentially a key decision).
5. The teams switched sides as decided by the coin flip and based on discussions with the referees and officials.
6. The team played a competitive, fair game with many of SET's players supporting their younger teammates.
7. Huntington Beach won 6-to-5.
8. Immediately after the game, the SET coaches protested as the Huntington Beach kids celebrated going to the semi-finals.
9. After returning to their hotel, the Huntington Beach team learned the protest was accepted because the SET coaches never approved or agreed to switching sides and switching sides every quarter was against the rules.
10. Huntington Beach learned around 10 pm that they would have to play a make-up game at 6 am the next day.
11. The children were told that the game would be three quarters in length and the game would start in the second quarter with SET leading 2-to-1 because that was the score at the end of the first quarter in the disputed game.
12. Before the 6 am game, the officials told the kids that they would play a full 4 quarters with the score at 0-to-0 to start.
13. SET won with a last-second shot to win and proceeded to the semifinal game where they won.

I just returned from Rome at the 2009 World Swimming Championships where disputes, disqualifications, protests and appeals were adjudicated among 202 participating countries in a much more reasonable, objective and fair manner than what occurred between SET's 12U coaches, their supporters and the presiding officials at the JO tournament.

It was certainly eye-opening to see first-hand the international community of countries - all very competitive in the realms of politics, economics and sports - be more reasonable, objective and fair than the SET coaches and officials at the JO tournament.

Especially when we are talking about 10, 11 and 12 year old children.

But, I have learned that protesting a fairly fought game - especially when one's team loses - pays when participating in USA Water Polo JO games.

Admirably from my perspective, the coaches and parents of Huntington Beach accepted the conditions of the protest game and the outcome of their loss like men.

And that is what our 10, 11 and 12 year old boys will become: upstanding men - with a lesson learned that the world is not always fair.

In my opinion, the coaches of SET are focusing on winning no matter what the circumstances.

That is their choice.

But I would have hoped that USA Water Polo officials would have stepped up to the plate like the young players of both Huntington Beach and SET.
Steven Munatones
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Huntington Beach, CA

LF
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Re: The Game is not over until SET files a protest

Postby LF » Tue Jul 28, 2009 1:51 pm

Can you please clarify the apparent discrepancy between points 1 and 9 in the "facts of the second game" ? Who originally agreed ? Were the coaches not all in agreement at that time ? Thanks

Russ Thompson
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Re: The Game is not over until SET files a protest

Postby Russ Thompson » Tue Jul 28, 2009 1:55 pm

The entire problem is that NO ONE can set aside the rules and decide to do their own thing. Your item number one is what doomed this game from the start. Sorry, but the rules are the rules and cannot be changed by mutual agreement. I'll bet no one in Rome asked if the teams could change ends each quarter.

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Re: The Game is not over until SET files a protest

Postby Rafael Ruano » Tue Jul 28, 2009 2:23 pm

Interesting situation.

My take is that the SET coaches, by agreeing to the change, are estopped from trying to use that very agreement to replay the game. The very actions that they took (along with the opposing coaches and the officials) are the ones that they protested.

I agree that the teams cannot agree to play a game under different sets of rules, including when they swicth sides. However, a relevant question in my mind is where in the rules does it say that this game needed to be replayed. There are rule violations all the time, most inadvertent and some agreed to by the parties, to what rule do we turn to decide which games are to be replayed and which ones are not? For example, there is a rule that technically states that the cap numbers should be 1-13 with 13 a red back up goalie, there are also rules about the number of people allowed on a team's bench. I have seen very few red 13s around JOs and I have definitely seen many games played out with club athletes not playing that game sitting on the benches. Should those games be replayed? I would think the prudent answer is "no, but we should clarify to all venues who is allowed to sit on the bench or what the ruling is on caps." In this case, it seems excessive to replay the game due to an honest attempt (seemingly) by all parties (coaches and refs) to alleviate a natural condition (the setting sun). Why not simply let the result stand and clarify to the officials that changing at quarters is not allowed under any circumstances.

Let me say that there is never a perfect way to deal with the unexpected things that happen during a tournament, but I dont agree with the way this played out.

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Re: The Game is not over until SET files a protest

Postby SMHensley » Tue Jul 28, 2009 3:04 pm

Thanks for a great post Steve!

As a former National water polo team member this is quite disturbing to me. What a disgusting lesson the SET coaches gave last night and this morning to many bewildered fans (many of them children) of water polo. Win at all costs!

Both teams agreed, as did the US water polo officials, PRIOR to the game to change the rules. Yes this never should have happened, but it did and the game was played. Then after playing 4 quarters and losing they immediately have to protest to something they agreed to in the first place?! SET should have walked with their heads held high and accepted their loss. Instead, they had to complain till they got their way and obviously it didn't hurt having USA polo officials in their "pockets".

Mr Tompson are you saying since everyone agreed to the change in rules prior to the game they should have played the game over again... at 0600 the next morning? How ridiculous! Can you imagine trying to explain to your sleeping child at 0450 that the game he played and won last night has to be played over again in an hour or so!? It is heart wrenching!

I consider HB players and coaches the winners in this terrible situation! SET will continue to prove why they have the reputation they do in the water polo community!

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Re: The Game is not over until SET files a protest

Postby Russ Thompson » Tue Jul 28, 2009 4:56 pm

No, that is not what I am saying. I am saying without that mistake by the officials the game would never have been in question. It is a refeee error. If I was able to determine that the coaches agreed prior to the game, then the game stands. Shame on both coaches for attempting to violate a FINA rule at a National Championship and they should both be made to live with the results. They both screwed up also and should both take a good look in the mirror to decide what they are teaching. The rules state - change ends at 1/2 time and in the 2nd period of extra periods. That is the rule and there is nothing prohibitive about following it and everyone can follow it. If the sun is a factor in outdoor pools then petition FINA to change the rule.

The kids are the victims in this and they, in my opinion, should not be held accountable. Both teams lose here because the win will be questioned.

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Re: The Game is not over until SET files a protest

Postby Russ Thompson » Tue Jul 28, 2009 4:59 pm

p.s. I agree with Rafael about being estopped.

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Re: The Game is not over until SET files a protest

Postby Rafael Ruano » Tue Jul 28, 2009 5:08 pm

Thanks Russ. I love the term "estopped" by the way and when I read the original post, could not help reply.

Russ Thompson
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Re: The Game is not over until SET files a protest

Postby Russ Thompson » Tue Jul 28, 2009 5:21 pm

Hey Rafael how about this as a legal position. Read the definition of estoppel and notice that "either by conduct" is used to define the inconsistent position. When the protesting coach got up and actually changed ends, did he not just agree to changing ends which is inconsistent with his protest? Estoppel is a great word to decribe this. No one forced him to change ends, so when he waited for the outcome and then protested - me thinks he protests too much.

estoppel

–noun Law. a bar or impediment preventing a party from asserting a fact or a claim inconsistent with a position that party previously took, either by conduct or words, esp. where a representation has been relied or acted upon by others.

StevenMunatones
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Re: The Game is not over until SET files a protest

Postby StevenMunatones » Wed Jul 29, 2009 10:05 am

Yes, both coaches and referees and tournament official (who was off-site at the time from what we were told) all agreed to the change. After confirming with the off-site official, the referees brought the captains over to do a coin toss and why the SET coach was given the opportunity to select a side as the winner of the coin toss.

So the kids on both sides played the game according to the rules that were set in place at that time. While we all understand that FINA rules are different, the 10, 11 and 12 year olds played the game - and every spectator on the deck saw the game - under the rules that were in place at the time.

To complain and protest and overturn the game result AFTER the game was over by the SET coaches and the tournament officials are the adult actions that I believe are a shame.

Rules are rules, I agree 100%. And, rules in every competition, are applied and judged by the referees at the game and followed by the athletes in the pool.

What is most telling, to me, was the reaction of the SET boys and coaches after the third game. They know they won a tough game. It was a nice, competitive battle between two evenly matched teams of young boys playing their hearts out. The SET team won the third game fair-and-square. But the SET boys did not celebrate like they did their first game with Huntington Beach. They did not pump their arms and yell enthusiastically as young boys do. Conversely, the SET coaches looked to be elated.

The kids know. The Huntington Beach boys shook the hands of their worthy opponents and smiled at them through tear-filled eyes. The SET boys looked at their opponents and similarly smiled back and shook their hands in mutual respect.

The kids know and acted like gentlemen and kids that we all can be proud of.

It was the adult SET coaches who many people - including non-Huntington Beach parents - have a problem with. While I would never do what the SET coaches did, I can almost see how their overwhelming desire to win wa all-consuming, blinding them to the spirit and nature of competition.

But what I was most disappointed in were the decisions made by the supervising tournament officials - men who I assume have children - who did not see the injustice of this all and hide behind some technicality and who judged a 6 am make-up game, after ending a 3-game day less than 10 hours before, was the proper and just resolution.

Their decisions were truly disappointing.
Steven Munatones
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Re: The Game is not over until SET files a protest

Postby eric markle » Thu Jul 30, 2009 1:32 am

I love this quote By Russ "Shame on both coaches for attempting to violate a FINA rule at a National Championship and they should both be made to live with the results. They both screwed up also and should both take a good look in the mirror to decide what they are teaching."

I am the HBWPC 12 and under coach, Natalie Benson (Golda) was my assistant coach at this game, during this JO tournament.

This exact attitude is was made me so angry when we attempted to dialogue with the board about how to fix this situation...

First of all Russ, shame is not given to someone who made a decision that violates a rule that they did NOT know about. And, to both my defense and Natalie's (and by the way SET's) NONE of us knew the FINA rule. No one violated a FINA rule during this National Championship tournament purposely! If SET knew the rule, they obviously would have not agreed to play the game changing every quarter. If Natalie or I knew of this rule, we wouldn't have even asked if we could change during quarters. Unless, you think we tried to pull some chump move to gain advantage. That was not the case.

Being on the Northeast Zone Referee chair, russ, don't you think this is an important rule that the two deck referee's should have known? Further more, John Montrella or who ever the deck referees called to verify this, don't you think this is a rule he should have known?????! And is paid to know!!!!!!!!!!!

I asked Natalie to ASK if we could switch every quarter due to the sun factor (without knowing the FINA rule against this), the referees said they can call and ask if we would like. Sure, OK they did. They came back and said that a head official verified that it was OK. Do you want to switch every quarter? Sure!!! Coin toss, SET won, and picked the better option. Game starts....SET switches every quarter with NO resistance or opposition, game finishes, HB wins by one point....

I will NOT sit here and read "Shame on both coaches". Shame on the officials that blew it and didn't know the FINA rule. Shame on those people for not doing their JOB! Not shame on the HB coaching staff! Shame on SET for choosing to do whatever it takes to win. You want to allot shame, allot shame to someone who makes a decisions on a rule they are paid to know or coaches who make decisions to win at any cost. Think about what you write.

And lastly, you think I should look in the mirror and think about what I am teaching my athletes????? I know I had to look at 14 athletes who are 10,11, or 12 years old, who are utterly crushed and despondent that their incredible win was taken away by an official that gets paid to know rules and still verified the wrong thing. That other coaches will do anything they can to win, and my kids lost because a Head official verified something that he should have rejected. Then teach them after loosing at 6am, that winning is not everything. That I was proud that they got back up and fought for their goal to win the 2009 Junior Olympics but still lost. Without one of my best players by the way, his dad was so angry that he would not bring him to the game. With tearful eyes and broken hearts, I had to hug a few of my starting athletes as their dream of winning a medal was stripped away from them because someone couldn't verify a rule the right way.... you think about that Russ...

I'm so proud of my athletes. They played the best water polo I have ever seen. They deserved to fight through a semi final game and hopefully make it to the championship. I'm so proud that parents on others teams came to support our games. I'm so proud that other coaches saw the selfishness and lack of morality in SET's decision to protest a game that they fairly lost. I am so proud and thankful of all the support from parents, coaches, referees, that saw what happened and say it was wrong...

The bottom line, without emotion, is that the head official that was called to verify if we could switch sides every quarter made the wrong decision. If he made the right decision on the rule, this all would have never happened. The reason for the uproar among parents from all teams was SET's decision that lacked morality and lacked example that is important to teach in youth sports. Whoever made the answered the call and said it was OK to switch every quarter should have been penalized, not my team. He should step forward and issue an apology to my athletes....

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Re: The Game is not over until SET files a protest

Postby Water-Polo-Fan » Thu Jul 30, 2009 1:57 am

eric markle wrote: ...First of all Russ, shame is not given to someone who made a decision that violates a rule that they did NOT know about. And, to both my defense and Natalie's (and by the way SET's) NONE of us knew the FINA rule...


It appears that nobody knew a pretty basic rule. I'm not trying to beat you down, and I'm certainly not judging you, your staff OR your team, but ignorance is not an excuse. It just isn't.

Players, coaches, referees (as well as those the referees go to for answers) have a responsibility to know the rules under which they play. EVERYONE is to blame here but I put the majority of that blame on the officials. They are the ultimate authority and should have known better. Period.

By the way, when I say "players have a responsibility" I tend to mean those of high school/college age girls and boys. I certainly don't expect an 11-12 year old to know every FINA rule and it's proper application. They look to their coaches and the referees on their games to make sure the game is called correctly.

Last thing, I wish the father who kept his son out of the "second" game would have thought differently as his son, in my opinion, didn't learn anything by not playing. He would have gained at least something by way of experience had he been allowed to play. Win or lose those boys will forever be bonded by their experience and that young man was denied that opportunity.

IMHO, I could be wrong.

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Re: The Game is not over until SET files a protest

Postby polo man » Thu Jul 30, 2009 2:00 am

I am not defending Russ , but coaches are paid as well, they should know the rules just the same, coaches are teachers, teach the rules of the game. I cannot believe that you have coach many athletes, but have yet to take the time to read the rules of the sport you teach. I know that John Montrella was thinking of the athletes themselves when he favored of changing every quarter and because of that he was wrong in his descision. He should follow the rules of the game and not his heart. Next year @ JO's, I hope that all the rules are apply as written. Ex. No more than 13 players on the bench, caps must be number 1 - 13 (13 red or dark or white, if no sub goalie),no stripped caps, assistance coach must be seating on the bench or be red carded, and so on...and if there are some exceptions, they need to address them at the coaches meeting.

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Re: The Game is not over until SET files a protest

Postby Russ Thompson » Thu Jul 30, 2009 8:17 am

Eric,

First let me say that I feel terrible for your kids and what they had to endure. I am truly sorry for their pain. My remarks are not meant to insult those kids.

I don't understand how you can coach a team in a national championship under FINA rules and not know the rules. I also don't understand how a national championship can be compromised because of a 'trend' to blatantly diregard the rules. Don, John and Jack know the rules. The problem, as I understand it, is that there was a 'tradition' of disregarding one or more rules. This 'tradition' caused this failure. (Please correct me if I am wrong)

When an organization endeavors to disregard even the smallest of rules and succeeds then the integrity of the event and the organization are compromised. Water Polo's dirty little secret is that it is an incestous litte sport where closed door stuff happens all the time. Sometimes it is innocent, sometimes not. Sometimes it is because we think we're doing everyone a favor. We're not doing anyone any favors when we blatantly violate the rules - even the seemingly smallest of rules.

You are not doing yourself or your team a favor by not knowing the rules - 'cold'. I should be able to say to you: Quote rule 7.3 to me and you should able to quote it back to me with reasonable accuracy. How about 21.8, 21.9, 21.10 and 21.11. Do you know these without looking them up? If not you are not as prepared to coach as you think - sorry.

Finally, I hope you now know 5.2.

I have not seen you in any of the WPA classes. I would welcome the opportunity to help as would my colleagues.

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Re: The Game is not over until SET files a protest

Postby eric markle » Thu Jul 30, 2009 11:47 am

And I don't mean to attack you in anyway Russ, I don't know you, and I apologize if I came off overly passionate...

Its really interesting reading these posts. Seams like everyone agrees that the coaches, and I am including myself, don't know the rules well enough. Very interesting. Does every coach need to be able to quote the rule as well as the exact address of each and every rule???? Lets use and analogy.... Does everyone know every rule, new rules, changed rules, from the California drivers handbook??? (or whatever state your in) No! We know to stop at red lights, go on greens. etc. We know the rules we are confronted with more frequently. Would it help to know every rule? Sure... But we don't.

Now, should a police officer know every rule? Yes, he is a paid official, paid to know the rules and enforce them. Same thing applies to water polo. Should each coach be responsible to know and quote every FINA rule?? Maybe, I don't know. What do you guys think? It would sure help. But the bottom line is those deck officials should have known the rule, and whoever verified we could switch every quarter should have known the rule. I don't know if it was Montrella, he would not tell me who said it was OK for us to switch every quarter.

After this you can bet that I will be doing my homework and reading all the FINA rules. Whoever said ignorance is not an excuse is right. I will do my homework. Ignorance is definitely not an excuse for someone who is paid to interpret and enforce FINA rules....

The real issue we should be discussing is, how can we prevent this from happening again?

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