Here is the setup from Monday night’s girls basketball game between fifth ranked Columbus and Omaha Burke. The girls from Burke were raising money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation by wearing light pink home uniforms that would be auctioned off after the game. At halftime, with Burke up by a point, the Columbus coaching staff made officials aware of an NSAA rule that states the home team must wear mostly white uniforms. Burke was assessed with a technical foul at the start of the second half and Columbus made both shots and went on to win the game 62-47.
Whether or not those foul shots helped decide the outcome can be debated, but did Columbus officials show poor judgement in pressing the issue, when the girls from Burke were wearing the specialty uniforms for the sake of charity?
Troy Loeffelholz, the superintendent of Columbus schools, said the principals of the two schools have been talking about a joint fundraiser. Loeffelholz told the Omaha World Herald, “We’re going to send a letter of support to Burke,” he said. “Contrary to what a lot of people might think, our girls care and have done their own part to raise money for charity.”
Omaha Burke Athletic Director Kyle Rohrig says there are no hard feelings. “Columbus is a fine school district,” he said. “We’ve had great competition with them in the past, and in no way is this going to change things.”
As I sit back and think about the circumstances, sometimes things get lost in the heat of competition. As a coach, you look for any edge possible to help your team win. It may take people from the outside looking in, after the fact, to remind coaches and administrations of what’s important and what’s the right message to send to the students and athletes.
While the technical foul for pink uniforms is unfortunate and maybe a bit embarrassing, it’s not what happened during the basketball game that will have the most impact on these two schools, but how they move forward from this episode and turn it into a positive message of sportsmanship and good will, that will matter the most.