OPINION: Comments more damaging than game forfeitureI fail to see what this article did to further the interests of either Marty or Plankinton or, for that matter, interscholastic sports in South Dakota.
By: Mike Elsberry , Guest columnist
I can understand that everyone wants to see their name in the paper being quoted for their sage commentary on a particular subject. I also am fully aware that there are reporters across the country attempting to find the most sensationalistic story to report.
Based upon the two articles in The Daily Republic’s sports sections dated Sept. 1 and Sept. 7 concerning the forfeiture of a football game by the Marty Indian School, I’m going to state that, unfortunately, some of the comments were not very smart, and the reporters need to do more work. First, I read the Sept. 1 article in The Daily Republic, banner headlines and all, about Plankinton’s forfeit win over Marty. I will make only a couple of observations on this article. Thanks to Todd Karst for realizing what the situation was and dealing with it in a professional manner.
However, The Daily Republic reporter indicated that he had attempted to contact Marty school officials for comment. If he did so, there were no messages on any answering machines to prove that statement. Yet, the article was emblazoned across the sports section in a manner impossible to miss. I fail to see what this article did to further the interests of either Marty or Plankinton or, for that matter, interscholastic sports in South Dakota. It’s my opinion, therefore, that this article was the precursor to the Sept. 7 lengthy essay, again in The Daily Republic, on the same subject.
The Sept. 7 sports editorial left a lot to be desired. It was timed to be released the day our student-athletes traveled to play Lower Brule, in Marty’s first football game of the season. I want to say first, thank you to Tom Culver of Avon and coach Mike Sebern for at least supporting Marty with some of their comments and showing understanding for the feelings of our students. Coaches Allmendinger and Mernaugh certainly have a right to their opinions as well, but I would have a couple of cautionary comments.
I’ve witnessed over the period of more than 42 years that comments such as the ones made by Mernaugh and Allmendinger are usually remembered for a long time and foster nothing but bitter feelings between school districts. Athletic seasons ebb and flow. Ask anyone about the Marty teams of a few years ago and you’ll find that they were fantastically successful. The community of Marty is a solid one, and those students and parents will make certain Allmendinger and Mernaugh’s “enlightened commentary” is not forgotten.
Finally, this is written directly to coach Mernaugh. I would certainly like an explanation of your comments that read as follows: “No, I wouldn’t play them if I had the decision,” Mernaugh said. “The big thing is because of who they are, they type of school they are … they’re fighting an uphill battle with kids who aren’t familiar with football and football isn’t part of their culture.”
I could read a lot into that comment — and I have. I believe, at least in my mind, that I have interpreted just how you meant it. Yes, we are a tribal school, and we’re darn proud of who we are. But, I’m thinking you meant more with the “who they are” part of your unbelievable comment to Mr. Luke Hagen (reporter) who was undoubtedly ecstatic with your phrasing. I’m sure he reported it exactly as you said it.
Mike Elsberry is the superintendent of the Marty Indian School.