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Don't let the cheating keep going unpunished

I

used to coach my middle son's travel basketball team. If I remember correctly, we were in a "B" league for teams that didn't have any "marquee" players or an "A" level team.

We were just that team with zero height and not a whole lot of talent, but we had met the season with some success because of our organized chaos on defense and lucky shots on offense.

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We were playing one team in particular in a playoff game and had taken an early lead. Then "the kid" walked into the gym. I didn't know who he was when he walked in and I've lost track of him and have no idea where he went to play high school or collegiate ball. What I do know is that we all remember him, especially on that night.

He didn't have a uniform that matched the team that he played for; he only sported Duke basketball shorts and a black t-shirt. He told us that his uniform had blood on it which is why he didn't have it, but it was also the only time that we saw him in the gym the entire season. He torched us for at least 20 points that night and controlled the game on both ends.

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I'm not crying sour grapes or anything, but it's been close to 10 years and we're still talking about it so it made quite an impression.

Last week, in my next version of travel basketball coaching, we had a similar, yet very different experience.

This time "the kid" 2.0 was on time, wearing a full uniform from the team he represented, we had seen him play in prior weeks, and he still torched us. I tried every one of our best defenders on him but none of us could stay with him. We doubled him up and he found the open man. If we fouled him, he buried the free throws. We lost 42-38 and I bet he probably had at least 30 of their points.

Although this is a travel league, there are still some restrictions on playing time. Players on your roster must play a minimum of one quarter of the game. There are no restrictions to how much a player can play, only how little.

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So there was nothing illegal or against the rules last week when the coach kept "2.0" in the game for practically the entire game.

I do have some players that play more than others but with 10 kids on the roster, it's hard to keep someone in the game the whole time.

I'll give the coach credit, though. Once he thought the game was in hand he did pull him …for 12 seconds. In that time we hit two three-pointers and made the game close again and "2.0" popped right back into the game to seal the deal. Good coaching, really.

Little violations like that occur all the time in youth sports.

From playing time to illegal players, we've all witnessed some sort of rule bending along the way. Volunteer coaches, overzealous parents, and unsuspecting kids all take part in trying to gain an advantage over their opponents. It doesn't make it right.

I watched the press conferences of both Bill Belichick and Tom Brady and tried to be as open-minded as possible to not judge before I heard what they had to say.

I probably fell victim to his Jedi mind trick, but I had no issues with what Belichick said or how he said it (except for maybe throwing Tom Terrific under the bus). It made perfect sense to me. Mr. Brady is a different story.

He too was believable as he deflected questions away from his role while strategically not throwing anyone else under the bus (although if I'm the NFL, I'm interviewing that equipment manager ASAP).

When I heard other NFL quarterbacks addressing it after his press conference and discussing the situation with my football friends, it appears that Brady may not be completely forthcoming in his replies.

The Patriots were the best team in the AFC this year and have earned their right to play in the Super Bowl WITH both Brady and Belichick.

I'm not smart enough to know how deflated balls would affect the game (especially when with the regulation balls introduced at halftime, Brady tore up the Colts in the second half) but my nose can generally tell me when something stinks.

Spygate. Deflategate. As long as this goes on unpunished, what's next? As the great Greek playwright Sophocles once wrote, "I would prefer even to fail with honor than to win by cheating."

You owe it to the kids that look up to you.

Reach Robert "Bird" Brown at 410-857-8552 or robert.brown@carrollcountytimes.com.

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