I received a surprising e-mail this morning. It came from a co-worker, who received a tip from a Herald reader.
The news was definitely big. Rick Reilly, widely considered the best sportswriter in America, wrote about the Archbishop Murphy High School football team in his column that appears in the current issue of Sports Illustrated.
I’m not sure how Reilly heard about Archbishop Murphy and its tumultuous season that ended when it was forced to forfeit eight games for using an ineligible player. But A LOT more people are learning about the Wildcats’ attention-grabbing story. According to a 2005 New York Times article, S.I. has a circulation of 3.3 million.
Based on what I’ve heard from co-workers and friends (I haven’t seen the column yet) Reilly passionately supports the Wildcats and absolutely hammers the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, which upheld the initial ruling that Murphy had to forfeit games because one of its players competed without a valid physical exam.
Unlike Reilly, I’m not a columnist. I’m a reporter, which means I am not supposed to include opinions or bias in my stories.
But like anybody I have gut reactions to controversial situations. I’ve tried to see both sides of the Murphy saga. I’ve considered all the unusual circumstances and listened to equally valid arguments.
As in most complicated debates, there’s no perfect solution, no matter what Reilly seems to think.
Two main thoughts continue stick with me: 1. It’s tragic that Murphy’s emotionally battered football players, already reeling from their coach’s death, were punished for something they had no control over, and 2. I’m glad I wasn’t on the WIAA board that had the unenviable task of sorting out such an unusual case.