It was an email NCS commissioner Gil Lemmon sent to one individual Monday but in the perfect world he so earnestly seeks to attain in high school athletics, Lemmon would like his message to El Cerrito principal David Luongo to be read, welcomed and practiced by all in his jurisdiction. Without exception.
Responding to the events that occurred during and after last Friday's NCS semifinal football game between Analy and El Cerrito at DeAnza High School in Richmond, Lemmon outlined for Luongo the conduct he expects to see this Saturday night when El Cerrito plays Marin Catholic for the Division III championship. It's conduct, Lemmon said, he expects out of all his NCS teams, but some references were specific to the events of last Friday.
On the El Cerrito sidelines, Lemmon wrote, only football equipment will be permitted.
"There was a reported baseball bat on the (El Cerrito) sidelines," Lemmon said. "I was told there was a coach hitting the bat into the palm of his hand saying, &‘Let's put a hurtin' on the other team.' That is inappropriate and unacceptable."
Lemmon interviewed the on-site game officials after the game and was convinced inappropriate language was used.
"I wrote they should promote positive coaching on the sidelines," Lemmon said. "There should be no trash-talking, no matter what. There can be no foul-mouth behavior."
Lemmon said that Chris Heller, the Analy principal, told him that he did not see a baseball bat on the El Cerrito sideline.
"It may not be true," Lemmon said, "but I'm not going to take that chance."
Lemmon also wrote to Luongo that he expects good sportsmanship to be practiced, to the extent that a player lend a hand to bring an opposing player to his feet after a play.
"I know that may be pie-in-the-sky," said Lemmon, in his fifth year as NCS commissioner.
Lemmon said he did not write a similar email to Analy because the Tigers' season is over. He would not characterize Analy's behavior as any more or less egregious than El Cerrito's.
"I'm not going to say who was more or less to blame," Lemmon said. "But I do think there was fault on both sides."
In attendance Friday, Lemmon was shocked to see the players and coaches from both teams not shaking hands afterward. Richmond police recommended at the time that both teams disperse.
"Any time we end a game like that, it's a failure," Lemmon said. "It was unfortunate. Shaking hands is a tradition. Players should do that to honor the players from the other team. We need to give the opponent credit. Both teams knew, as in all games, one team would lose. We need to honor those who provided that competition."
Lemmon wouldn't elaborate further about his thoughts or feelings about Friday's situation. Lemmon, however, had no problem offering his opinion about a general trend he sees today in high school sports — in which players don't hesitate to scream insults at an opponent.
"I believe if you can't say something good about someone," said Lemmon, in his 18th year at NCS, "you shouldn't say anything at all. I know that makes me old-school. But what I see happening is this idea of (verbal) intimidation. I hate it. It's one of the biggest hurdles I face as commissioner. Players, coaches, everyone, they need to respect the opponent."