For the members of the Greenbrier High School Athletic Booster Club, the Columbia County School Boards new rules on facility names must seem like getting into extra innings and then losing the game on a bad call by the referee.
The School Board can fix the problem. And it should.
The whole issue of naming schools and school facilities in honor of significant people came up more than a year ago, when Greenbrier fans sought to name their schools baseball field in honor of retired Coach Terry Holder.
The tough ex-coach certainly fits the category of living legend, establishing an unparalleled state championship record at Greenbrier after having already cemented his reputation with Evans Highs program.
But he wont have a baseball field named after him - at least not for 10 more years, under the School Boards recently approved policy.
Thats because the new rules reserve the honor of naming facilities for individuals who are deceased, or those who are age 65 and have been retired for at least three years. At age 55, Holder wont be eligible for another decade.
The policy itself is fair. Actually, we would have gone even further by establishing a policy that restricts naming honors only to those who are deceased. Sure, there is a good argument to be made for recognizing peoples accomplishments while they are still alive. Overall, however, death and time have a way of putting perspective on the emotional appeal of getting a name on the side of a building. Such honors should be reserved for rare individuals whose legacies long outlive their fragile lifetimes - not just handed out to make some ex-employee feel good.
Philosophical arguments aside, however, the Greenbrier boosters got hit with a beanball by the School Board. At the time of the Greenbrier Boosters request, the Boards policy merely kept the names of individuals off of schools themselves. It was already permissible to name, say, libraries and ball fields after deserving people.
But when the boosters sought to name their field for Holder, the school system asked them to wait until a more formal naming policy could be put in place. Then, while the Boosters paused, the School Board changed the rules. The result? The honor for Holder was OK under the old rule - but the new policy prohibits it!
Im disappointed that they did that, says Jon Thornhill, the boosters past president. Its almost provable that you could say it was specifically passed in a manner to exclude Coach Holder. ... There are people on that board who absolutely cant stand Terry Holder.
Naturally, school officials deny anyone was targeted by the rule change. But the fact remains that the honor was allowed under the old rules; the boosters put the naming in motion; and then the board changed the rule, making Holder ineligible. Any way you cut it, that isnt fair.
At any given time, a majority of school trustees can bypass their rulebooks in recognition of special circumstances. Unless they want this new policy to forever be tainted, they should back off and let Greenbriers boosters hail Holder. Thats a home run.
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