The Perry Hall (Md.) High boys soccer team is going to pull off something the eponymous character from "Weekend at Bernie's" never did: They're going to survive, after all.
According to Perry Hall Patch, the boys soccer team has been cleared to compete in the Class 4A North region semifinals against Blake (Md.) High on Saturday. The decision to allow the team to return to the state's regional playoffs follows a Friday press conference at which Perry Hall principal George Roberts reversed a prior statement in which he unilaterally canceled the remainder of the soccer season following what he deemed was an inappropriate celebratory dance after the team's quarterfinal victory against Dulaney (Md.) High.
The dance is called "The Bernie," and is taken from a scene in the movie "Weekend at Bernie's II", where it is performed by the voodoo revived corpse of the character for whom the movie bears its name.
"I decided to retract my original statement regarding the boys soccer team's participation in the Maryland Class 4A North regional semifinal competition," Roberts said in a statement at the Friday press conference. "The intent of my original decision was not to punish the students, but was to protect the dignity of an educations based athletic program. Perry Hall High School does not now, and will not in the future, condone acts of unsportsmanlike behavior. Further appropriate disciplinary actions will be taken."
Since Roberts' initial decision, the school has been hit with a firestorm of protest, most organized by students themselves via Facebook and word of mouth. The Facebook group "Bring Back Boys Varsity Soccer Picket!" helped organize a massive school rally, which was covered by Perry Hall Patch and news organizations throughout the Baltimore-Washington corridor. That led to further coverage at other national media outlets, including Prep Rally.
"I believe you should fight for what you care about, and I care about my friends. As soon as my friends on the soccer team told me that their game was to be forfeited simply because of a dance, I immediately knew I had to fight to get this decision overruled," Perry Hall student Matt Cavey, who organized the "Bring Back Boys Varsity Soccer Picket!" Facebook group told Prep Rally. "We fought, protested and talked to Principal Roberts and that's all that matters, that we tried our best and that's all I ever asked of anyone."
Roberts' abrupt change of course appears to have concluded one of the more bizarre chapters among teams making abrupt exits from postseason competition. Any Perry Hall departure from the Maryland state tournament at this point will be made purely based on the merit of the team's opponent.
No matter how far the Gators advance, one thing seems certain: We probably aren't likely to see them break out "The Bernie" again after a big goal, at least during official competition.
"I'd rather go out and lose 15 to nothing in the semi-finals than just have it end like that, by a principal," Perry Hall soccer senior Christopher White told ABC 2 before the ban was reversed.
Now White and his teammates will get their chance to play their way into or out of the state round of the postseason, beginning Saturday.
- Perry Hall