This past week, the town where Don grew up and his college alma mater both made the national sports news. For our little Northeastern Ohio region to be in the national news for one reason would be extraordinary; twice in one week is unheard of!
The age-old question is do you want the good news or the bad news? Let’s start with the bad news first and finish off on a positive note.
Don graduated from Youngstown State University. Over the years they have had four National Championships in football and last year they played in the National Championship game, losing to James Madison University 28-14. Other than those occasions, YSU is fairly low-key and just a nice hometown school.
Recently YSU made the headlines over a very controversial issue. Four years ago, two high school football players from Steubenville, Ohio were convicted of raping a 16 year-old girl. This awful crime which involved several players and a few adults was in our local news and on the national news for weeks. One of the convicted rapists made the YSU team this season as a walk-on, starting another round of local and national news stories.
Once word got out, a petition to stop Richmond from playing for YSU started circling around town and on social media. Soon after, a petition was started to keep him on the team. The second petition didn’t seem to gain near as many signatures as the first, and this evening the announcement was made that Richmond is no longer on YSU’s team. The debate will continue as to whether or not this was the right move, but the majority of YSU supporters will be happy with this decision.
As promised, there is also good news. Poland, Ohio’s 14 and under softball team won the 2017 Junior League World Series of Softball Championship last Saturday!
Poland is a small town just outside of Youngstown with an exceptional number of sports championships. Every year, several teams in various sports make it to championship levels. But the World Series of Softball! These girls are rock stars!
The Junior League tournament had its own controversy that was well-covered on the national level. The team that Poland was supposed to play in the finals was disqualified from the tournament because of an inappropriate photo that was posted on social media. Someone on the Virginia team posted a picture of several teammates giving the bird to the host team.
The tournament committee said it was a violation of Little League policies regarding unsportsmanlike conduct, and it was inappropriate use of social media. Little League holds its players to high standards, which the Virginia team now understands quite a bit better than they did a week ago.
Debates ensued regarding the severity and fairness of the punishment. Some folks think it was a little tough, considering the whole team was not involved. Others think this is a good lesson for all kids, and that there should be consequences for things posted online.
Regardless, Virginia was out and Poland went on to beat Kirkland, Washington for the softball title. Congratulations, Poland for good sportsmanship and fantastic softball skills!