Ron Gregory

January 28, 2014

Did anyone notice when West Virginia was merged with Alaska?

Good grief, what a weather pattern we’ve been in, making me wonder if there will ever be another high school basketball. Or another high school class for that matter. Parents and students alike are surely suffering from cabin fever of the worst degree.

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All of which reminds me of the story I once read about the Fingerhut Corporation in Minnesota. The article said employees of Fingerhut were routinely taken on an airplane ride a few times during each winter so they could actually see the sun.

In Minnesota, where winter weather like we’ve recently experienced would be normal, it was said that seeing the sun occasionally boosted employee productivity at Fingerhut. I don’t know if they still do this, but it didn’t sound like a bad idea.

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Also, it always entertains me to listen to folks who have apparently never escaped the state line talk about how “hot” it would be in Georgia or Florida right now. Suffice it to say, eastern weather patterns generally follow the same lead. If it is 20 degrees here, it is about 35 in north Georgia and 40 in Tallahassee. Nobody is baking in the sun while we freeze to death here.

Incidentally, I was once in Miami when it did not reach above freezing for 48 straight hours. That was an enlightening experience to say the least. It snowed a bit in the area while we were there as well, with Jacksonville getting three or four inches of the white stuff.

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The preceding two items have about as much to do with sports as the family cat’s food preferences. But it’s what I get the big bucks for.

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Speaking of sports. Huh? Oh yeah, speaking of sports …

I have now spoken with the ultimate authorities on high school athletics in the state. I, your esteemed sports columnist, spoke with the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission (SSAC) in Parkersburg.

Drum roll, please.

To say that the powers in Parkersburg called comments that police officers have to be “beckoned” on the court ludicrous might be going too far. Lets just say there was a resounding “no” when I asked that question.

Assistant Commissioner Butch Powell initially responded emphatically to my question. When I told him my buddy, official Pat O’Reilly, was among those insisting that such a “beckoning” had to occur, he put me on hold to confer with the head man, Gary Ray.

Minutes later, Powell returned to tell me he and Ray were “confident” of his answer but Ray had suggested he confer with the SSAC attorney responsible for basketball rule interpretation.

That conference took just minutes before Powell was calling me to tell me the lawyer agreed: there is no requirement that law enforcement be “beckoned” onto the court by game officials.

As I had told O’Reilly and another game official, if there was such a rule it would be decidedly contrary to state law and no court in the world would uphold it.

To even suggest that a police officer has to be “asked” to come on the floor when a fight is going on is just simply asinine. As I said last week, I wonder what game officials would have thought if police officers stood by and watched the fight break out at Chapmanville Regional High School. If a serious injury or worse had occurred, the first to complain would likely have been the game officials.

There is no way any lawman or woman worth his or her salt is going to stand beside the court and watch one player choke another without responding. What on earth are policemen for if it is not to enforce the law?

A public basketball court is certainly within the jurisdiction of any deputy or state police trooper in the state. If the brawl occurs within Chapmanville town limits, as this one did, the town police officers have jurisdiction as well.

Under the theory being espoused by a few game officials, if a player punched the referee’s lights out and all three were lying on the floor unconscious, a policeman could not come onto the court until one of them came to and “beckoned” him. Good luck on that one.

There are so many holes in this theory that I simply cannot mention them all. With few exceptions, no game official actually buys into this theory that the referees have to “beckon” police onto the court or field of play. Generally, 99 percent of them have told me that is a silly, ridiculous position to take.

As I said last week, I like O’Reilly. He is a fair man and a good referee. But he is simply misplaced on this one. There is no defense for the good offense of interaction with police officers at a game.”

To say that police can only enforce “crowd control is … well, ludicrous. It just doesn’t make sense that they have no jurisdiction on a public court (or private for that matter). I cannot possibly understand the invitation to chaos that presents.

It is wrong, wrong, wrong.

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The next time I’m involved in a car wreck, I hope nobody “beckons” the police to come near.

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Logan head boys basketball Coach Mark Hatcher called in an irate mood the other day. Hatcher more or less demanded that I come to Logan and watch “his” film of the melee that broke out during that Scott-Logan game at Chapmanville.

When I reminded Hatcher that I was there in person and have reviewed tapes of the fight several times, he insisted I needed to watch it with him so he could explain what happened.

Hatcher was adamant that I have reported the fight incorrectly. I beg to differ and told him so before hanging up on him. (There go my chances of driving in Logan again).

I have repeatedly watched the fight, after seeing it in person. I KNOW what happened. I do not, as I said last week, know whether Hatcher pushed a town police officer as he was led to the bench, as the police complaint says. I did NOT see that.

But I do know what happened on the floor for all the world to see. I continuously asked Hatcher on the phone if he was sorry for how he acted. He would never say he was, although he said two or three times, “I did not say I was proud of what I did. Don’t put words in my mouth.”

If Hatcher does not regret how he behaved in front of his team, staff and fans, then he must be proud of his performance. There are only two reactions he can have: he was wrong or he was right.

It is apparent to me, since last week’s phone call, that Hatcher still thinks he behaved properly at CRHS. That is sad and regrettable. If he actually believes that, a coach with so much talent is an absolute disgrace to his profession. He should step down immediately and save the Logan board of education of any attempt to look professional in their conduct. They are as guilty as Hatcher is; each and every one who upholds what he did that night. Each should be summarily rejected by the voters at the polls. No cover-up is worth the display put on before the Logan, Scott and Chapmanville students that night.

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I told Hatcher, when he continued to insist I come to Logan and watch the film with him, to call his “friends” at The Charleston Gazette and show it to them. You may recall that Hatcher refused to talk to local media about the melee, but spilled all to the Morning Sickcall.

The coach then told me that he didn’t tell me his side because “I don’t trust you.”

Well, get this coach: I don’t trust you, either and no Logan parent should have to suffer a child following your influence on and off the basketball court.

Enough said

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Keep your comments, story ideas and rumors coming. Use my email address listed or call my cell, 304-533-5185.