There is a saying dating back to the 1800's that "Justice delayed is justice denied." That was proven again in the controversy involving the Appleton Xavier and Little Chute boys basketball teams. In case you missed it last week, Xavier beat Little Chute in a regional final and was all set to play Fox Valley Lutheran Thursday night when a Little Chute player came forward with proof that a Xavier player was inelligible to play. The WIAA disqualified Xavier and reinstated Little Chute--who then beat FVL that night.
First off, the Little Chute player is to be commended for coming forward with information of a rules violation--however, by waiting until that information directly benefitted his team--the positives kind of get lost in the resulting controversy.
In golf, we are expected to self-report our rules violations. But if you witness another player committing a breach of the rules, you are expected to turn him in, in order to "protect the rest of the field". I've had some experience with this--as I turned in a fellow-competitor for illegally taking relief from a plugged lie in a marked water hazard in the first round of a two-day tournament. Needless to say, he didn't appreciate that--but I had warned him before he committed the violation--but he insisted he was right. Anyway, other competitors told me I had done the right thing-regardless of what the guy was yelling in the clubhouse after being disqualified.
But what if I had said nothing after that first round--and the offender beat me by a couple of strokes to win our flight? How would it have looked to say "Yeah, the guy who beat me cheated--now give me his trophy"? Would I have earned the same respect from the rest of the field if I "snitched in defeat"--instead of immediately after the infraction occurred? Probably not.
And that is the problem in the Xavier-Little Chute controversy--the timing. And I don't just mean that it looks like "sour grapes" coming from the Mustangs. The infraction occurred on Febraury 25th--meaning the same innelligible player competed in Xavier's first playoff game against Freedom. Because it wasn't reported until a week later, Freedom is an injured party as well--because the WIAA couldn't re-instate them to play Little Chute in the regional finals (and Freedom beat Little Chute once before this season). So where is the justice for the Irish?
I say all the time that high school are the best way to teach important life lessons--like life isn't always fair--and there will always be winners and losers in life. The lesson of this controversy has to be: if you see someone breaking the rules, report it immediately--because waiting only makes the problem worse.
As a post-script, Brillion beat Little Chute in the sectional finals on Saturday. Some would say that was "karma". Others (like all of the Little Chute parents standing around my press table after the game complainging about the officiating) believe it was part of a WIAA conspiracy to make sure the Mustangs didn't make it to Madison--further extending the controversy. I think it was just an underdog team deciding they were going to play in-your-face, shut-down, man-to-man defense to dominate the second half.