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Monday, March 1, 2010

7th Grade POW: Can't Get No Respect

          Mr. Bott was surprised to see Mr. LeFour at his classroom door. He couldn’t remember the last time they had spoken to each other in the past couple of years. Ever since Mr. LeFour was hired and took over the sport department from Mr. Bott, there had been friction. Mr. Bott had dedicated many years to Willowside Middle School’s sports teams. True, the school rarely had a winning season, but Mr. Bott felt that the real purpose wasn’t to win, but to instill a sense of honor and discipline in his athletes. It wasn’t a very popular position, he agreed, but an important one nonetheless. 

Mr. LeFour, on the other hand, was all about winning. He applied the same discipline he learned in math to the development of a first class sports program.  He carefully watched the students during recess pick up games or after school events. He felt he had a good eye for talent and he went out of his way to cultivate it in select students. His technique, controversial to many on staff, produced one winning season after the next. The medal wall in the cafeteria was completely full and the awards shelf sagged under the weight of 10 winning seasons in a row. Mr. Strehl, the school principal, wasn’t about to risk this by asking Mr. LeFour to change his practices. Mr. Bott resented this.

So, when Mr. LeFour offered him the volunteer soccer coaching position, Mr. Bott had to consider his options before deciding what to do. On the one hand, he was excited to return to coaching. Starting up a soccer team from scratch intrigued him. But it had been a long time since he had taken on such responsibility. He wondered what Mr. LeFour’s expectations would be of him and the team. What if they did not have a winning season? How would the athletes react? But he knew down deep that the challenge of coaching a new soccer team was just what he needed to jolt him out of his lethargic existence. He accepted.

Unfortunately, there was very little time to get ready. He met with the students interested in the soccer team one afternoon. There were only six of them. “Not enough, not enough” he muttered as he looked at them. Justin and Sydney were there, of course. Richard, Kyle and Amanda also came to that first meeting. Richard had been recruited by Mr. LeFour after trying out for (but not making) the baseball team. Kyle and Amanda were there because their parents were pushing them to get more involved in extra curricular activities. Griffin was ostensibly there only as a reporter for the school newspaper, but found himself interested in playing on the team as well. Almost at the end of the meeting, after Mr. Bott had talked about honor and discipline, in walked Doni Einstein. “Is this the soccer meeting?” he asked. Mr. Bott nodded before saying, “Yes, but if coming late is your habit, you might want to reconsider.” Doni looked unsure what to do until Sydney stood up and went over to him.

“We are SO glad you want to play on the team. Now, with seven, we have the minimum number required by the league. Welcome, Doni.” She shook his hand as the other looked on, incredulous.

“Speaking of the league,” interrupted Mr. Bott, “I almost forgot to tell you about the schedule. There are 8 total teams in the league, including us, and all teams need to play each other twice in the season. The problem is that there are only two fields big enough around here to play soccer on and the baseball league dominates them. The only times available were Tuesday and Thursday evenings and early Sunday mornings.” There was a collective groan from the students. Mr. Bott passed out the team’s game schedule. 

“I don’t want to be disrespectful or anything, Mr. Bott,” said Amanda a little cautiously, “but this schedule is horrid. You have us playing most of our games late on Tuesdays and Thursdays, not to mention this crazy 6 am Sunday game. There’s no way my parents will agree to this. Isn’t there anything we can do?”

“Honor and discipline, Amanda, honor and discipline. It’ll be a great character builder,” replied Mr. Bott in a clear, firm voice. Sydney watched Amanda go all quiet and worried that she would drop out of the team. She stood up quickly.

“Mr. Bott, Amanda, Everyone: listen. I propose we look at the schedule and see if we can help the league make it a little more humane for everyone. I mean, after all, there are only 8 teams. It can’t be that hard, right?”

Your Task: You are challenged to create a more reasonable soccer schedule given the limitations imposed on the league by the baseball schedule. Make a clear schedule that indicates when, where and at what hour each team will play for the minimum number of weeks necessary for everyone to have completed the two game requirement. Be realistic with the times of the games.  Assume a soccer game takes one hour to play and that the play-off schedule will be determined post season.

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