Larkin shows true character in playoffs
I was excited about how well the Larkin High School basketball team might do in the postseason this year. Those hopes were dashed in the first game of the regionals, after Coach Deryn Carter suspended his conference MVP, Kendale McCullum, for violating team rules.
Coach Carter could have easily turned a blind eye; however, he proved his own character by making a tough decision. In doing so, he built the character of all his players by teaching his young MVP that no one is above the law.
Contrast that with what happened recently at the IHSA basketball finals in Peoria. Stevenson High School's talented Jalen Brunson scored 56 points in a losing effort during the semifinals of the state championship.
Frustrated, Brunson made an obscene gesture to the crowd with both hands. He was initially suspended by the IHSA from the consolation game. He tweeted out an apology, then quickly retracted it and claimed "I didn't do what was portrayed," but photos clearly showed differently.
IHSA officials reviewed the suspension under the threat that Stevenson High School would boycott the consolation game. The IHSA reversed the suspension shortly before the game. In contrast to Larkin, the lesson taught by Stevenson and the IHSA to players and students statewide is: If you are big, lie and threaten to take your ball and go home, you can get your way.
Stevenson is held up as a pillar of education and Larkin is many times maligned. However, I'll take a coach and administration that puts character first and winning a distant second any day, compared to a coach and administration that thinks the definition of character is how many games are in the win column, no matter how the wins get there.