Win becomes loss after truly bizarre forfeit

A Southern California basketball faceoff has resulted in one of the most remarkable forfeits imaginable after a highly ranked varsity squad was forced to give up its victory because of the actions of the school's junior varsity coach … which had been approved by game officials ahead of time.

Westlake boys basketball and head coach Rob Bloom — BeRecruited
Westlake boys basketball and head coach Rob Bloom — BeRecruited

As first reported by the Los Angeles Times, Westlake (Calif.) High has been forced to forfeit its victory against Agoura (Calif.) High because it allowed the school's junior varsity coach to sit on the bench during the varsity game. The California Interscholastic Federation's Southern Section later ruled that the coach should not have been allowed on the bench for the varsity game because he had previously been ejected from the preceding junior varsity game.

While that explanation is somewhat logical -- if slightly bizarre -- it comes with a catch: Westlake head varsity coach Rob Bloom checked with game officials to ensure that junior varsity coach John Elliot would still be allowed to sit on the bench despite his prior ejection. Agoura officials appealed that decision the following day, and the Southern Section ruled in favor of the losing squad.

"I was depressed all day," Bloom told the Times. "The kids are devastated because they wanted to be in first place."

Instead, Westlake was handed a surprising Marmonte League loss, despite the fact that the school's head coach actually followed the protocol subscribed for when they are uncertain about a rule interpretation.

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Of course, that's where the logic behind the forfeit begins to break down. If a school consulted with game officials about a decision, shouldn't the referees be the ones punished for their mistake? How can varsity players, who had absolutely nothing to do with a banned coach sitting on their bench, be held responsible for a misunderstanding by their coaches and game officials?

It doesn't make much sense, but then again, perhaps that only makes the decision par for the Southern Section course.

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