All who have the impression activities directors only sit on their butts, smoke cigarettes and drink coffee ought to sit in the chair of Brainerd High School activities director Todd Selk for an hour.
They would discover the job of a 21st century activities director is more than wins and losses, attending events and making sure someone staffs the concession stand and the ticket booth.
Frankly, it's a thankless job. Parents upset about their child's lack of playing time or about a coach eat into an already overcrowded athletic director's schedule.
There is transportation to schedule for 30-plus activities, officials to hire for those activities and schedules to be drawn up.
Then there are hours spent meeting with coaches and attending conference, section and state meetings.
After that, hopefully, there is time left to spend with family.
Selk has been questioned after the Minnesota State High School League ruled Brainerd girls' and boys' soccer programs must forfeit several contests for permitting an ineligible player to compete.
There are those who will claim he could have prevented both situations and maybe he could have. But he's man enough to take responsibility for the oversights as well as take the heat.
Both violations were reported by Selk to the MSHSL. He could have pigeonholed both, the MSHSL probably would not have discovered them and the teams' records would be intact.
But he didn't.
"We want people to know, flat out, that no one caught us, we caught it, and no one turned us in," Selk said. "It's not like we knew this, went along and some school said, 'Is that foreign student eligible?' then we discussed it.
"We self-reported it to the MSHSL for an interpretation. Unfortunately, we had unfavorable interpretations."
Selk admits the procedures Brainerd has in place should have prevented this from happening, and that his office failed to catch it.
"Ultimately, I'm responsible for this program," he said, "and I take that responsibility."
The responsibilities of today's activities directors include stacks of paperwork. There is open enrollment, transfer students from other cities and states and foreign exchange athletes. The paperwork is so cumbersome an attorney probably should be consulted to make sure interpretations are correct.
Selk spoke with an activities director Monday morning who shuddered to think of what might be found if he put his programs under a microscope.
"I think every activities director sits on the edge of their seat each season worrying -- is anything slipping by?" he said. "I'm not sitting here saying there are a bunch of dishonest activities directors, but we know some probably aren't doing their paperwork properly."
Selk said despite his office's mistakes its character should not be questioned.
"We're deeply saddened by what has happened," he said. "I'm very disappointed in our department, but I will say if we stand for anything we have integrity. When that comes into question then I really will be saddened."
When the girls' team was informed of the ruling Friday, Selk said a parent put the situation into proper perspective.
"Basically, the parent said, 'Ladies, the season starts (Saturday) when everyone is 0-0 (in the section tournament). We're not kept from participating in section play. We still have that opportunity.'
"Had we sat on this and someone turned us in after the first round of the section then we would be out of the section tournament. Obviously, that would have been very hard to stomach."
It's difficult to stomach that people don't understand when someone else makes a mistake. Forfeits, unfortunately, occur in athletics.
In 1976, I was a member of the sports information staff at St. Cloud State. The Huskies' football team was 8-3, one of the best records in program history. But SCSU had to forfeit its first four victories because it used an ineligible player.
Let anyone who is perfect cast the first stone.
Mike Bialka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.