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Sports can teach that life ain't fair

BY MELANIE BRUBAKER MAZUR

TIMES EDITOR

I am an advocate for kids doing sports and other activities.

Sports teaches that teamwork and practice pays off, just as piano lessons and dance do.

But sports tends to have more referees, which can be a good thing, but as any sports fan can tell you, when officiating is bad, it can be truly awful.

Bayfield football teams, in particular, had a string of bad luck last weekend.

On Friday night, the BHS boys travelled to Gallup to play at Miyamura High School against the bigger 5A school.

They had FIVE touchdowns called back.

I've been at games where touchdowns are called back. I could see two or maybe even three. After all, these are high school kids, they're learning the game, and mistakes happen.

But five?

The players and coaches I heard from said they received apologies from Gallup players and staff at the end of the game, saying they didn't want to win a game in that manner.

So the next day, a lot of Bayfield and Ignacio families hit the road to Farmington for a fourth-grade YAFL game.

The Young American Football League teaches kids fundamentals of the game. It's tackle football, and it's tough. I'm the first to advise parents, if your kid doesn't REALLY like football, this might not be the sport for him. Or her - a handful of girls play.

The Bayfield Wolverines and Farmington Bulldogs were pretty evenly matched. After two hours of playing in 85-degree heat, no team scored. They both had good defenses.

So we moved into overtime, with each team getting a chance from the 10 yard line.

Again, no score, so we moved into double overtime, then triple overtime.

Whew. Our kids were hot and tired, and I'm pretty sure the Farmington kids felt the same way.

We were getting ready to start our fourth attempt, when I saw one of the refs give a high-five to one of the Farmington players.

My jaw dropped. I've watched high school, college, pro and YAFL football since I was a little kid. I've never seen a ref give such a sign of approval - or favoritism - to a player in a game where he is supposed to be impartial.

I looked at one of my mom friends. Did I just see that?

Yep, she replied. And that same ref had done that same thing last week in a game against Aztec, as well. To Aztec players.

Well good golly, isn't that nice.

He never high-fived any members of our team, by the way.

After four tries and other teams waiting to take the field, the refs announced they were going to decide the game by yardage gained, and seconds later, after supposedly totalling the number of yards, they announced Farmington won. By one yard.

The Bayfield parents didn't boo, but we weren't thrilled either. A Farmington dad told my son and me on the way out it was a good game, and I grunted in reply. I knew if I said something, I would regret it.

So football does teach some other good life lessons, as well. Such as, life is not fair.

That night, one of the players stayed the night at our house, and he asked me if I thought they had lost the game.

Nope, I said.

"So you think we've won three and lost one and tied one?" he asked. Yes, I said. These Wolverines have had a good season and they've worked hard.

On paper, our team is 3-2. Normally, I would agree that is our record.

But sometimes, we know the truth doesn't agree with the record.

Another life lesson learned, I suppose.