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KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — A DODDS-Europe sports official said the issue of honesty never came up before the school system implemented the so-called “39-point rule” directing coaches to alter scores of high school games to save the athletes from embarrassment.

Under the policy, coaches are required to alter the final score in lopsided victories before reporting scores to Stars and Stripes. Regardless of the actual score, no margin of victory greater than 39 points should appear in the paper.

“Honesty is something I believe in,” said Karen Seadore, DODDS-Europe athletic director. “This has never been a conversation we have had (in regard to the rule). This sheds new light on [the rule].”

Although the rule went into effect last school year, Stars and Stripes became aware of the policy last Saturday.

Following a football game between Heidelberg and Lakenheath, a coach sent an e-mail changing the final score he had given earlier, stating he was not allowed to report more than a 39-point difference. The correct score was Heidelberg beating Lakenheath 48-6, but the altered outcome was later relayed to Stripes as 45-6.

Seadore said DODDS-Europe sports officials will discuss the “39-point rule” next week at meetings in Wiesbaden. However, the policy will remain in effect for this weekend’s games.

As long as the “39-point rule” remains, Stars and Stripes will not print the results or scores of any DODDS-Europe athletic events unless it can independently verify the scores. Doug Clawson, managing editor of Stars and Stripes, called for DODDS-Europe to provide correct scores for all the outcomes that were doctored.

“This newspaper cannot be a part of, nor can we condone, the falsifying of information to our readers,” wrote Clawson in a letter to Diana Ohman, DODDS-Europe director.

“They must know they are being provided accurate information in the newspaper of record. In our capacity to provide our readership accurate information, we are asking that you provide the actual scores of all the games in which the scores were manipulated, so that we can publish these for the record.”

Ohman could not be reached Friday afternoon because she is on temporary duty.

When asked if she considered giving the press inaccurate scores as lying, Seadore responded, “I don’t have an answer for you. I really don’t. This is something we’ll have to look at at the council meeting next week.”

The “39-point rule” went into effect beginning with the 2006 DODDS-Europe football season. The rule teaches players good sportsmanship and concern for others, Seadore explained.

Other DODDS-Europe sports also have “mercy rules” that have been in effect at least since the late 1980s, she said.

In soccer, officials quit keeping score when one team gets ahead by seven goals. In basketball, officials stop recording points when a team pulls ahead by 40 points. In those situations, the teams keep playing, but additional scores are not recorded. As far as Seadore knew, statistics were kept for the entire game.

Reached Friday at practice, head coaches at Ramstein and Kaiserslautern commented on the “39-point rule.”

“There’s no sense of reporting an outrageous score,” said Ramstein coach Glenn Porter.

Kaiserslautern coach Tom Burriss said he would like Stars and Stripes to run the game scores, but he would abide by DODDS’ rule.

Although Seadore said the rule was put into effect last year, a former volunteer coach contended the rule was instituted prior to the 2003 football season.

“I know for a fact they weren’t reporting anything higher than a 39-point victory in 2003,” said Jerry Lindsay, who served as a volunteer coach at Patch High School from 2002 to 2005.

The rule made no sense to Lindsay when it was brought up during the 2003 DODDS-Europe football camp, he said, and it makes no sense to him today.

“If you’ve got a kid who’s offended by seeing a 56-0 score in the newspaper, that kid probably doesn’t need to be playing football,” he said.

To our readers:

Stars and Stripes will cease publishing the results and scores of DODDS-Europe athletic events unless it can independently verify the information.

We regret that we have been forced to take this course of action, but our readers must know above all that the information they read in Stars and Stripes is accurate.

The newspaper will again publish scores and results gleaned from outside sources representing DODDS-Europe when it is satisfied this information is not being manipulated in any way.

— The Editors

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