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Track: A jewelry controversy in Pasadena

The girls' dual meet between South Pasadena and Monrovia Thursday came down to the pole vault.

As explained in the Pasadena Star News, South Pasadena's Robin Laird cleared the needed height to deliver victory for her team, but she was immediately disqualified after Monrovia co-coach Mike Knowles pointed out she was wearing a friendship bracelet, which is not allowed in competition.

Rules are rules, but how come no one noticed the bracelet before she went up for her jump? Laird's disqualification gave Monrovia a 65-62 victory.

Where's Michael Josephson to discuss the ethics on this one?

-- Eric Sondheimer

Comments () | Archives (27)

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poor sport

don't forget to include the athletic director in your emails. i couldn't find one for the cowardly coach so i just sent an email to the principal and copied the athletic director as well.

RBell AT

Stephen Elton

I'm glad to see so many comments here that I agree with.

Today I wrote to the Monrovia principal to share my thoughts with him.

Take a moment and do the same.

DJackson2 AT

Be respectful and brief.

get real

It's never too late to do the right thing...Let's see the Monrovia kids (team captains) show what they've learned and rise above the pathetic actions of their coach who undertook this action on his own...Give back the trophy to S Pasadena and congratulate them for their performance...That's more satisfying than winning a "tainted" championship...


Thanks Knowles! You took high school innocence and sportsmanship and stepped all over it. I hate to say someone should feel shame, but you should!
I wonder if every rule was adhered to if we had a videotape and looked at YOUR players. But guess you found something on the last event on their team. Sounds like a cunning coach who has probably been burned somewhere and wants his revenge.

Its too late to change the results. Hope you sleep well tonight buddy!

Mike "Bad Guy" Knowles

I apologize to the world for being a douche and a bad example to high school kids. Please fire me and never put me in a position where I should be helping young athletes mature into good adults.


Worst example of how to be a leader in sports this year.

I'm going to make sure every teen boy in my church who loves sports reads this, so he has a good example...

Of how NOT to be a man, a coach, or a leader.


Knowles is the sports world equivalent of an ambulance chasing attorney. I'm sure he sleeps well at night. That kind always does no matter who they've screwed or how they did it.


actually, by the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary jewelry is: "objects of precious metal often set with gems and worn for personal adornment"

I would strongly appeal that ruling.

Still Robin can have the satisfaction of knowing she did win and she delivered for her team


I think what people missed is the fact that Mr. Knowles (can't call him a coach with good conscience) not only stole the title from the real winning team but he also stole pride from his team. For the rest of their lives, the members of the Monrovia track team with any amount of ethics will either not tell the story of how they "won" the championship because they are embarrassed or they will not be able to show any genuine pride in the "accomplishment." He is a person who doesn't understand that his students could actually be proud of the fact that they competed hard and fairly and came so close to beating a powerhouse team. I can only hope that the school board understands that he robbed their children of a tremendous childhood memory and send him packing...

Martin Kinard

I am shocked that a high school coach would stoop to such idiocy as Mike Knowles did to win this championship. If I were his AD, I'd fire him on principle or lack thereof. I know that rules are intended for a reason, and I'm guessing that the reason for the no jewlery rule is to protect the athlets, but come on a piece of string isn't technically jelery is it? In either case, I think the Knowles is typical of the slimey "win at all cost" type of coach that I wrote about for over 15 years as a Sports Editor in SC. I would have shamed that man and would have been ashamed of my school if he had been coaching one of my children. Shame shame shame. I say only one thing, "throw the bum out!"


In 1936 in Hitler Germany, a German no less, named Luz Long had the strength of character to stand up in a tremendous act of sportsmenship and give advice to Jesse Ownes who had double faulted on the qualifying runs for the long jump. Not only was Luz lessening his own chance at an OLYMPIC gold medal but here he was helping an African Amercian in NAZI germany in front of Hitler himself so i would say at great personal risk. Now that is a lesson for the ages about sportsmanship. Knowles should be embarrased by his "lesson" but so too should the school he represents. The principal and athletic director and everyone else at the Monrovia school should reach out to their cross town rivals and return to the trophy to them, this was a stolen victory to be embarrassed of not an earned victory to be cherished-- now that would be a valualbe lesson for all

Gary Whitaker

The only honorable course of action for Monrovia is to give the title to the team that won it.
The rule against jewelry clearly is to prevent injuries. This is not a case where the prohibited item provided a competitive advantage.
Knowles obviously is so intent on winning, to further his career he believes, that he will subvert the reason for high school sports. Knowles apparently is one of those coaches who thinks that winning at any cost is the goal in high school sports, and girl's track at that (unlike some boys' high school football teams, where winning or losing, or rushing for 2000 yards or passing for 5000 yards are ends in and of themselves, with potential millions of dollars at stake for some kids).
Knowles, you are not Vince Lombardi. You are not John Wooden. You should be ashamed of yourself and apologize for your actions.


He should be ashamed of himself. Sure, his team "won" but it's a very shallow and empty win, at best. His team got outplayed and this girl iced probably THE BIGGEST EVENT in her life under tremendous pressure, to boot. If she had failed her vault, would he have STILL pointed out that she was wearing a bracelet? Doubt it. He was right to have been fired from his last job and should probably be fired from this one from teaching his kids that you do whatever it takes to win - even after having been beaten legitimately.

Andrew Van Riper

How about this life lesson on the "letter of the law."

Websters Dictionary defines jewelry as: "objects of precious metal often set with gems and worn for personal adornment"

Reverse the ruling again because by the "letter of the law" Robin Laird wasn't wearing jewelry - she was wearing a piece of string - not an object of precious metal.

Jim Bob

Coach Knowles is a punk. He saw the bracelet well before the jump. If the girl's jump didn't beat him, he would not have said anything about it. He has tainted his whole team.
Another loser coach who couldn't cut it in the grown-up worl as an athlete or a coach, so he rides h.s. kids in his efforts to achieve something for himself. He may have his precious victory, but I doubt that many of the kids on his team will be telling their own kids about this victory someday.

Coach Knowles should grow up and try to have some pride.


I just understand how a piece of *string* can be considered jewelry? That's like calling her jersey body armor. Completely absurd!


I think this is the same POS who got fired from Muir and disputed his termination as being without cause. If this is indicative of how this man operated at Muir, I can definitely see why they canned his sorry a$$.


If I was on the Monrovia team, I would be ashamed. Frankly, I would prefer to quit the team than win this way.

Politics Not

Knowles is a loser person. That is something the officials might call, but not a coach. He's not a coach.


Ditto on Duffman's post! Unbelievable...

Dallas Fan

Mike Knowles is an absolute joke and his administration ought to be embarrased. His team was clearly beaten by superior athletes on that day, and his recourse was to report a uniform violation. He just taught his athletes it isnt about being the best at what you do, its about finding the loophole and getting what you didnt earn. At the least his school should hide the winning trophy in a closet. They have nothing to brag about.


Robin Laird can hold her head high. Coach Knowles should hang his in shame. He can make all the excuses he wants for such despicable behavior, but as a coach, as a human being, I find him pathetic. Monrovia should fire him, he has ruined their reputation. Just my opinions. (I'm from the Midwest, not California).


I am not from California so I have no bias as far as the outcome of the meet. I think Mike Knowles should be ashamed of his actions. He can pretend to hide behind his claim of enforcing the rules but it's obvious that winning was his sole motivation. He sends such a sour message to the country. If he really wanted to teach he should have spoken to the pole vaulter in private, explained what the rule says and told her to be careful about wearing a flipping piece of string on her wrist. He then should have congratulated her on a fine, pressure filled jump. She would never have forgotten that instance of teaching and kindness and it would have stayed with her for the rest of her life. Alas, he chose to be a jerk about it and I hope he loses this job like he did his last one. I just googled him to find out what his story is and he sounds like a grade A loser.


No self-respecting athlete or coach wants to win in this way. A dq for a legitimate competitive reason is acceptable, but for a bracelet? Come on... I'd be thoroughly embarrassed if I were an athlete on the team and would not accept the win. Coach Knowles should be extremely embarrassed for himself.


What a joke. If coach Knowles has any respect for his team or the sport he should do the right thing and hand the trophy back to the team that deserved to win. To ruin a wonderful moment and get a judge to DQ a young woman for wearing a freindship bracelet is outrageous.


Invoking the "letter of the law" over the "spirit of the law" is NOT always the best policy. This action has shame written all over it. This is simply a symptom of what is wrong with so many of our youth athletic organizations (made up of too many people who value winning over character and integrity). I recommend Coach Knowles read John Wooden on Leadership or even Inch and Miles.

track fan

Wow, Coach Knowles sure is a stickler for following the rules! You know, Monrovia would have won (for real) if they'd won the 4x400 relay. But one of their girls was running that race wearing a hair ribbon, which is also against the rules. Do you suppose that if his girls had won, Knowles would have done the rule-abiding thing and pointed out that violation as well? He also failed to to draw anyone's attention to the Monrovia boy high-jumping while wearing a hat, and the Monrovia boy who should have been DQd for a false start but was allowed to run the 200 anyway. Seems Knowles was rather slow to develop his respect for the rules. He may have claimed the title on a technicality, but he's still a loser.


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