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Steve Springer

High School Innocence Suffers Sack

November 01, 1987|Steve Springer

In sports, the high schools were thought to be the last bastion of the purist.

Professional sports long ago had been tainted by the real world and collegiate sports has followed down a similar sordid path.

Reports of drug busts, lawsuits and criminal activity are just as likely to be found on the sports page as the front page.

But at the high school level, the purists argue, there are still people to whom games are just that, who still offer entertainment unblemished by confrontation or controversy.

Or so the theory went.

In Moorpark, a volunteer assistant high school football coach is dismissed amid charges he gave drugs to players. In the Valley, a high school football player quits his team after fighting with a teammate amid charges of racial slurs. He successfully switches teams only after a bitter bureaucratic fight with the City Section. In Granada Hills, parents and administrators battle over the scheduling of a cross-country meet.

This is the real world and welcome to it.

Are high school sports going the way of their big brothers? Can you picture the preps a decade from now?

Fade In.

The office of Gene Upshaw High Athletic Director "Quick Deal" McGraw. He is on the phone, wildly waving the stub of a cigar as he screams into the receiver, when his head football coach, " Slo " Mo McNasty , walks in the door.

McGRAW: Look, I don't care how many lawyers he hires, he can't put the motor oil logo on his basketball shorts. Now if he wants to put it on his schoolbooks, we might be able to work something out if he tosses a percentage our way. Oh, I don't know, how about if he gives us . . . Yeah, what do you need, Mo?

McNASTY: Sorry to interrupt, boss, but we may have a real crisis on our hands.

McGRAW ( total disgust on his face as he speaks into the phone) : Look, I'll get back to you. Hold out for at least a 60-40 split. I got another fire to put out.

McGraw replaces the phone, squashes his cigar stub on top of it and quizzically glances up at McNasty .

McNASTY: We may not have a game tonight.

McGRAW: Sez who?

McNASTY: The players are going on strike.

McGRAW: Strike ! What the heck do they want? They're already the highest paid team in the Marmonte League.

McNASTY: They have three demands. First, they want to be able to switch schools in midsemester if they get a better deal. Second, they want their agents to have the right to negotiate grades for them. And third, they're not satisfied with just getting paid to play.

McGRAW: What the heck else do they want to get paid for?

McNASTY: Grades. They think $1,000 for each "A" and $500 for every "B" would be fair, with an incentive bonus for graduating and a nominal fee for reporting to class every day.

McGRAW: Oh, they do, do they? Are they willing to give me money back for "D's" and "F's"?

McNASTY: Fat chance.

McGRAW: Well, you tell them that if they don't suit up tonight, we'll go on with the game anyway.

McNASTY: How could we do that?

McGRAW (shaking his head) : I sometimes wonder how you manage to call the plays out there. Think man! We'll go with scabs.

McNASTY: Scabs? Where will we find them?

McGRAW (throwing up his hands in exasperation) : From the student body!!!

McNASTY: Play regular students? We'd be laughed off the field.

McGRAW: Is that so? Well, those fans out there better not laugh too hard or they just might find themselves without a team altogether.

McNASTY: What do you mean?

McGRAW Hey, they don't call me Quick Deal for nothing. I've always got my options. What would you say if I told you we were moving across the country to Atlanta?

McNASTY: Boss, we can't do that. We're a high school.

McGRAW: Sure, and we're all in this to improve education. But I'm sitting on a deal for a 50,000-seat domed stadium, complete with luxury boxes.

McNASTY: Can we get away with that?

McGRAW: Let 'em sue us.

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