Medina team treated unfairly by NOFA commissioners’ decision to end season
It was about a month ago now that an alleged event occurred at a LOYAL football game in Medina that has shaken many players as parents to their cores.
When unsubstantiated accusations of a 10-11 year old player hitting an Akron cheerleader were made public and the social media world went wild which perpetuated a poorly executed news story on Channel 7, none of us could’ve predicted the events that would follow.
Instead of yielding to the facts and maintaining an environment in which children could benefit from an opportunity to demonstrate compassion and understanding towards one another with an age-old solution: an apology and even adding a one-game suspension to the suggested means of remediation, the powers at be (NOFA – Niagara Orleans Football Association) would demonstrate a divided front.
The Executive Board agreed that the aforementioned plan would be an appropriate handling of the matter, as did both Akron and Medina coaches and commissioners. According to NOFA bylaws, the conflict was resolved and required no further action.
However, in direct breach of their own bylaws and in direct conflict of interest to the party involved, the Executive Board then accepted a motion made by a commissioner, and six other “yea” votes followed to suspend Medina Broncos for the remainder of the season.
Justifiably, Medina’s parents and community were outraged and desired answers. The Chairman of NOFA, Harold Suhr, extended an invitation to his other NOFA comrades to meet with Medina parents to discuss this matter. He was the only one that came to the meeting, which can be heard here on YouTube.
The Chairman expressed a limited understanding of NOFA’s bylaws and a hesitancy to follow them. He expressed that while the LOYAL Board was currently engaged in an appeals process regarding the decision, that NOFA had no appeals process in their bylaws. The Chairman likened the value of bylaws and ability to enforce them to the southern border crisis in the United States.
The Chairman also acknowledged that the leagues within NOFA oftentimes will deal with retaliation for decisions made against other leagues in the past and that the Broncos team being number 1 in the standings was indeed part of the decision to ultimately end their season. Finally, when the parents collectively demanded that this decision be reversed, the Chairman encouraged the parents to “lawyer up.” So we did.
The following events are even more troubling than the aforementioned. Once NOFA learned that the Broncos parents were seeking legal recourse, the LOYAL Board received a letter from NOFA reminding the LOYAL league of their probation (due to issues from the previous season which had been mitigated) and stated that they need not justify the decision to suspend the remaining LOYAL teams, that is the 6-7 year olds, 8-9 year olds, and 12-13 year olds. The LOYAL Board, recognizing this threat, could not provide support to the Broncos parents, in consideration for the other children.
The Broncos’ parents, however, in an attempt to save what was left of our children’s season, urged the lawyer to pursue based simply on the verbal instruction of the NOFA Chairman himself when he stated “lawyer up”. This entire chain of events could’ve taken days and was especially exhausting for the children who had high hopes of continuing their season. However, due to literally hundreds of unanswered emails and phone calls, this occurred over the period of about 3.5 weeks.
Parents have heard time and time again “they can’t do that”, but I assure you, reader, they can- and they did. After receiving a letter from the lawyer retained to advocate for our children urging the reversal of an obviously faulty decision, NOFA simply responded that they had confirmed with the LOYAL Board that they were not objecting to the suspension (as mentioned earlier the parents took this step independent of the LOYAL Board to ensure that the other teams could continue their season) and that “NOFA will not be re-examining the situation at this time nor through the remainder of the 2022 scheduled season.”
As a parent, I have learned throughout these 3 weeks, things that I cannot un-learn. Prior to this event, I could not fathom that a group of adults would consider a football team’s standings and potential for a playoff spot, over the well-being, and best interest of children.
Prior to these three weeks, I could not imagine that members of the NOFA Board who would make such a decision, serve in leadership roles in their respective communities, including on school boards. I could not understand that people that say that they’re “in it for the kids” could so blatantly make decisions against “the kids” and demonstrate a sort of metaphorical toddler placing hands on the hips and stomping feet refusing to admit wrongdoing, in the name of what? The kids? Three weeks ago I could not imagine a grown adult telling me that she was intimidated during such meetings because voting against the majority meant that you might get “dirty looks.”
Please, parents, as you consider your children’s extracurricular and athletic pursuits in the future heed this word of caution: find out who is in charge and get a seat at that table. Not for your own personal gain or status, or to list in your obituary someday that you served “x” amount of decades on a Board.
As you can see the service in this situation was not done with integrity or “for the children” but because these kids – your kids, and those without a strong advocate at home – need a voice at that table. There needs to be a conscience in the room who, when brought to tears over a moral conundrum, recognizes that perhaps the business going on is done behind closed doors and over a couple bottles of alcohol because the business is not “for the children.”
And a final word of caution to the NOFA Board of Executives and Commissioners themselves: While you have been so bold and unfeeling as to table this discussion for the remainder of the season, so as to ensure that your wildly clever plan of gaining the coveted playoff spots that you so desire, you should know that we now know what we cannot un-know. We are indeed in it “for the kids.”
Your refusal to make right, what could have easily been made right, will only be seen unfavorably by a judge and I would seriously consider resigning at the end of this season to allow people to serve that are actually “for the kids.”
Brittany Dix, a Broncos mother
Albion, formerly of Medina