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Mideast edition, Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Emotions are running high over DODDS-Europe’s decision to alter sports scores to save athletes from the embarrassment of reading the true results in the newspaper.

And while most parents don’t agree with the policy, some say Stars and Stripes’ decision to not run sports scores isn’t the right solution because it’s the athletes who are being punished.

“I can understand wanting to report accurate scores,” Wiesbaden “football mom” Heather Delity said by telephone Monday. “However, Stars and Stripes needs to report the games. I’d like it if someone would designate a reporter authorized to call in each game.”

At present, home-team coaches are those reporters. School system rules, however, specifically prohibit them from reporting any score that exceeds the 39-point spread the administrators have designated as the threshold of embarrassment.

“I think the policy was created out of a sense of being kind,” said Delity, whose son plays on a Warriors’ squad that posted a 33-13 victory Saturday at International School of Brussels in its Division II-North Conference opener. “But obviously it’s not working.”

Delity expressed surprise when told Stripes’ decision to not run scores extended to volleyball, golf, tennis and cross country. Those sports have no caps on scoring and have never been suspected of manipulating results, she said.

“That’s totally inappropriate,” Delity said of the blanket ban. “It’s not fair to the kids.”

Patrick Redmond, whose daughter Maggie, a senior at Patch, established herself as the favorite for the 2007 European cross country title with a 1 minute, 17-second victory over Bitburg’s Sandra Davidson on Saturday, strongly objected to the omission of his daughter’s win.

“My question is what the 39-point rule has to do with cross country running?” he asked in an e-mail.

Other parents reached at Weisbaden’s football practice Monday afternoon said they couldn’t understand the DODDS’ rule.

“I say print the [true] score. Don’t try to fool the kids. Let’s not try to play with their intelligence,” said Army Staff. Sgt. Leonard Robins, with the Wiesbaden-based 1st Armored Division, Support Troop Battalion, and father of a junior varsity player at Wiesbaden.

“They learn something from losing. It’s a teaching tool. It could help them play better next time.... The kids know the score, the parents watching the game know the score, why can’t the public know?”

Helena Robins, mother of another JV player, said “I think the kids are getting cheated out of a lot of things when they lie about the scores. I don’t understand why you would want to hide it.

“What happened to honesty? You want your kids to be honest and this is lying in a sense. The public wants to know. I’m sure that’s the general consensus.”

Mercy rules are more for the Child and Youth Services non-competitive sports, according to Ronald Teal, father of a football player.

“By the time a child reaches high school it’s time to show them reality. It’s not fair to the guy whose playing third string [on a team winning by more than 39 points] and his touchdown isn’t reported....

“Don’t sugar-coat it … why aren’t we reporting reality? Why cover it up?”

Even non-athletes say reporting false scores is wrong.

“We shouldn’t have that rule. I know it sounds mean, but who cares if [the losing team] gets their feelings hurt,” said Sarah Homerstone, a Wiesbaden senior.

“The team that wins deserves the glory. They put in the effort. It’s like they’re protecting us from the real world. We’re not babies.”

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