Imagine being told by an athletic governing body you cannot play your own tournament's baseball games at your home stadium, but your out of state opponents are welcome to play there.
Well, maybe it's not actually hard to imagine such a scenario if given a hint as to the governing body in question. It's initials are O.S.S.A.A. Not so shocking now is it?
Once again the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association has shown itself to be quite nimble at stepping into a mess of its own making (remember the prayer fiasco?) while being remarkably incapable of applying a little common sense.
Late last week the organizers of the annual Glen Winget baseball tournament in Bartlesville, now in its 59th year of existence, were told the hometown American Legion team, the Bartlesville Indians, could not play at Bill Doenges Memorial Stadium, which has been home to the tournament since the tournament's inception. But it wasn't just Bartlesville that was told it couldn't play there.
In addition to Bartlesville, teams from Shawnee and Ada could not play there. But wait, it gets better.
Other participating teams from Missouri and Arkansas were welcome to play at Doenges. Well, as long as they weren't playing the Oklahoma teams.
Yes, it's so convoluted that it could only be the OSSAA's doing.
Games that are not allowed to be played at Doenges — think of Doenges in terms we here in Enid think of David Allen Memorial Ballpark to understand the ballpark's place in Bartlesville's baseball history — were forced to be moved two miles to Oklahoma Wesleyan University's practice facility, which has no lights.
In the past the Enid Majors have been regulars at the Winget.
So, what gives? Well, this goes back to March 2018 when OSSAA approved and implemented, by a 9-3 vote, a so-called "dead period" starting in 2019. The purpose of this period, which runs this year from June 29-July 7, is to enforce a period of athletic inactivity to afford student athletes a break.
Most of the focus seemed to be on football where summer pride follows on the heels of various team and 7-on-7 camps and spring practice which rolls right into fall practice.
My colleague Mike Kays, longtime sports editor at the Muskogee Phoenix, fleshed out the full meaning of this so-called dead period in a recent column, explaining "During the dead period, secondary level students enrolled or pre-enrolled at a member school and their parent and/or guardian may not use any member school’s athletic facilities during the dead period in connection with any athletic activity governed by the OSSAA on their own accord. Member school coaches, assistant coaches and sponsors may not have any contact with these students in that member school in any athletic activity governed by the OSSAA for the purpose of coaching, training or instructing."
Apparently nobody at OSSAA foresaw the far-reaching, preposterous level of unintended consequences of strict adherence to this rule. And, OSSAA, being OSSAA, has no room for exceptions.
So, based on this rule, Bartlesville was declared by OSSAA to be persona non grata at its own facility. According to a story in the Bartlesville Herald-Examiner, tournament director John Pannell indicated OSSAA would not back off its decision.
Just to clarify, since Doenges Stadium is used by Bartlesville High School for its home baseball games, it is off limits for use during the dead period. Never mind we are talking about an American Legion team not under OSSAA rule that leases the stadium and is not in any way affiliated with Bartlesville High School.
Ostensibly, one has to surmise it only applied to Oklahoma schools as those teams have players that also play on Oklahoma high school teams.
Talk about overreach.
The same rule applies to David Allen and the Enid Majors.
Nobody is denying a break during the summer is a good idea, but this decision is remarkably obtuse and tone deaf.
Is it really the intent of OSSAA to trample on and pointlessly disrupt a community-identifying event in the name of bureaucratic mandates?
The Winget indeed is part of the fabric of Bartlesville sports. It's one of the area's primary sporting events and has been fully embraced by the community.
Is nobody at OSSAA willing to step up, go out on a limb and make the correct — and painfully obvious — call? What was accomplished by enforcing this rule in such a manner other than once again demonstrating OSSAA's intractable bullying?
Hopefully, OSSAA Director David Jackson and its director of baseball, Mike Whaley, will use this most recent misadventure as an opportunity to address and resolve this before next year's dead period rolls around.
Unless and until then, just chalk it up to OSSAA once again being OSSAA.
Ruthenberg is sports editor for the News & Eagle. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.