Glad to Hear All Involved in Perry Hall Decision Big Enough to Admit They Were Wrong

November 04, 2011 | Glenn Clark

I wrote 18oo words of criticism about the Perry Hall High School boys soccer team situation Thursday night.

You never got to see a single word (as you can tell we’re making changes here at, and that’s okay.

Perry Hall principal George Roberts announced Friday he had reversed his decision to suspend the entire Gators team one game for performing the popular “Bernie” dance after their late goal to defeat Dulaney High School 2-1 in the MPSSAA 4A North region playoffs.

The suspension initially meant the team would forfeit their game against James Hubert Blake High School (Blake) in Montgomery County, but that game will instead be played at 2pm Saturday.

It’s good news all around.

The outrage from Dulaney family members and fans was misplaced, as was admitted by head coach Jerry Tana to PHHS coach Pete Eibner in an email obtained by The adults in the situation were overly emotional and acted in a way that did not represent responsible parenting. They were unaware that the dance was a popular celebration performed by NFL players like Baltimore Ravens LB Terrell Suggs & RB Ray Rice. They were unaware that the craze was popular on YouTube based on a bizarre song by rapper ISA mocking the 1993 comedy “Weekend at Bernie’s II”.

The powers that be in the situation decided to invoke the “unsportsmanlike conduct” rule regarding the situation and suspend the team for one game-which would have lead to the forfeit.

Thankfully, the powers that be were ultimately willing to admit something that is INCREDIBLY difficult for us to admit as adults.

Sometimes-even when it comes to governing children-we might not know or understand everything.

Sometimes, we’re just simply wrong.

In this case, the adults involved in the situation were wrong. It’s just nice to know that they were able to correct their mistake before the ultimate damage was fully done.

The Gators may end up losing Saturday to Blake. Their season might not continue, they might not face the Poly/Westminster winner for the right to advance to the state semifinals. But that outcome will rightfully be determined on the field instead of the principal’s office.

The school (and the state) might need to make the decision to outlaw any form of organized dance celebrations by athletes to avoid similar confusion in the future. But the kids who were not informed of that beforehand did not deserve to be penalized for a bylaw introduced after the fact.

The athletes will be forced to take an online course about sportsmanship. While even that is a bit of a stretch if you ask whether the punishment truly fits the non-existent crime, it’s certainly a much more reasonable penalty to offer and a good way for the adults in the situation to save face based on their initial overreaction.

In the end, the decision to suspend the players was wrong and I am grateful to see that the adults involved were willing to admit that. As we all know, it’s not an easy thing to do.

All parties who stood up for the kids deserve credit as well. It was an awkward and uncomfortable week around the school, but it was ultimately handled in a much more appropriate way. They got things done the right way, they just didn’t take the easiest road to get there.

Uncomfortable words were exchanged. Students were put in the crosshairs and administrators had to back down from initial decisions.

It’s not something we’re used to seeing, but it was absolutely the right thing. Even some parties from both schools who initially told me they supported Roberts’ decision ultimately messaged me back to say “you know what-we were wrong too.”

In the end, the fact that the final verdict was reached this way in some ways is more improbable than had the decision never been made to suspend in the first place.

As a Perry Hall alum, I’m thrilled to be able to offer congratulations to everyone involved.

By admitting wrong was done, the situation was finally made right.