BOSTON (CBS) – They say it’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.
Most people would say North Attleboro High School boys’ track and field coach Derek Herber plays the game right.
His team won the Division 2 Eastern Mass. title on Sunday.
But, when the official results came in the next day, the points from the track meet weren’t adding up. There was a clerical error in one of the final races.
“Originally they placed one of my athletes in second place, which scores eight points, and he actually got seventh, which only scores two points,” Herber told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 Tuesday.
“When they fixed it, to put the correct kid in second place, they switched the names but never switched the points.”
At first Herber, who’s also a history teacher, thought, “I hope I’m doing my math wrong.”
He could have said nothing and his team would remain champions.
Or he could report the scoring error and cost his team the title.
“We called the state and told them that there was a mistake made,” Herber said. His assistant coaches doubled checked the results as well and the state later confirmed the error.
“We called the other school (Central Catholic) and told them they should have won,” Herber told WBZ.
In fact, the scoring error dropped the Red Rocketeers from first to third. Woburn would now get second place.
In a track meet there are 20 events in the whole day and the scorers do the math as they go, so the winner is determined right away.
But not this time.
“We kind of stumbled upon it when we found it and we didn’t want to win that way,” Herber said.
“(We’re) trying to teach the kids winning isn’t everything and doing the right thing is more important, “ he told WBZ.
“I think our kids were a little bit disappointed, but I also think they understood it was the right thing to do.”
Herber will bring the championship trophy to the all-state track meet this weekend and give it to Central Catholic’s coach.
“What coach did was absolutely right and it was great,” says senior Ian Flanagan. And teammate Jacob McKinnon said, ” Coach made me see that it wouldn’t have felt honorable to accept the trophy.”
And sprinter Ryan Croke said of his coach, “It didn’t surprise me, he’s an honest guy.”
In this day and age of tainted sports stars, Coach Herber is getting national press coverage, which he finds a bit uncomfortable.
“I’m being celebrated for doing the right thing, but there really wasn’t a choice, in my book.”
He told WBZ he’s doing more interviews this year by losing the title than last year when North Attleboro won it.
Herber Talks To WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Matt Ledin
WBZ-TV’s Bill Shields contributed to this report.
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