There’s a delicious satisfaction when Super Jock who got all the girls and tortured the preppies in high school shows up for the 20-year reunion bald, obese and twice-divorced.

Nobody sheds a tear when a self-promoting wide receiver is forced into retirement because his legs no longer can keep pace with his mouth.

And so there’s not a lot of statewide sympathy for Winslow High School football coach Mike Siviski, who ordered his team to eschew the postgame handshake and scurry off its home field last Saturday after a 56-0 loss to Leavitt.

As moral authority goes, it ranks with Boy George going on a religious network and proclaiming Lady Gaga over the top.

This is the same Winslow program that has routinely hung 50, 60, even 70 points on overmatched opponents in the two decades since it dropped from Class A to B. 

It’s the same team and same boss that were involved when Wells decided to invoke a seldom-used rule and kick off rather than receive after Winslow decided it needed to punch in another touchdown at the end of a 55-0 shellacking in the 1993 Class B state championship game. Then-Wells coach Ed McDonough’s crystal clear statement still resounds with fellow members of his sideline fraternity nearly a generation later.

Two wrongs don’t make a right, I suppose. But know this: Leavitt didn’t run up the score on Winslow. For starters, the Hornets consented to running time for everything except touchdowns and injuries in the second half. (I wonder if Winslow was so quick to offer Old Town and Mount Desert Island an accelerated clock in lopsided days of yore? And I wonder if those coaches commanded their teams to tuck tail and escape to the sanctity of the locker room soon as the horn sounded? Doubt it, on both counts.)

Leavitt lapsed into what was, for them, a vanilla offense, employing off-tackle runs and shovel passes almost exclusively in the second half. Winslow’s apparent bone of contention was one deep overthrow by sophomore backup quarterback Jordan Hersom in a long-yardage situation with the Hornets holding a 49-0 lead.

You know, Coach, it isn’t Hersom’s fault or Leavitt coach Mike Hathaway’s fault that Hersom would be the starter for almost every other team in the Pine Tree Conference, including yours. It also doesn’t defy football’s unwritten code of ethics — although damned if I know, since those rules of engagement get increasingly soft with each passing year — for a coach to offer his reserves something that resembles real game conditions when his starters have kicked your fanny for an hour-and-a-half.

More irksome than the inequity and hypocrisy of the Winslow coaching staff’s reaction is the realization of how thin-skinned the toughest of all youth sports has become.

This isn’t even the first time I’ve encountered a fabricated sportsmanship issue this season. I heard one coach ask nobody in particular whether or not it was necessary for the opposing team to throw a touchdown pass while nursing a 27-12 lead with under two minutes to go.

Ask Waterville how safe a two-touchdown advantage was in the final two minutes the year it coughed up a Class A championship. Football is a funny game with a peculiarly shaped ball that takes bizarre bounces.

The problem is that nobody agrees upon what the thou-shalt-nots of scoreboard etiquette actually are. One says it’s the winning coach’s responsibility to yank his starters. The other vehemently places the burden on the vanquished coach to wave the white flag and send in the junior varsity. God only knows how big a lead one must accumulate and at what point in the game before throwing the ball is considered bad manners.

I’d suggest that common sense should prevail, but hey, we’re talking about football coaches here.

Not sure when we became such weenies about this stuff. Maybe it’s a reflection of a society that is obsessed with fairness and phony nicety. But that seems so antithetical to football.

For years, coaches have paid lip service to how the sport builds character and teaches its players to fight through pain and adversity. It all grates the ears like a mouthful of bologna when a staff that has inflicted more than its fair share of hurt feelings recoils in schoolyard bully fashion the first time that favor is returned.

The real answer is that this stuff evens itself out. Don’t take too much pleasure in being the hammer. Because someday your manufacturing jobs may dry up and your student population might dip, and it ain’t much fun being the nail.

Right, Winslow?

Kalle Oakes is a staff columnist. His email is [email protected]


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