The biggest controversy in sports this summer, maybe even this year, occurred last week at the prestigious Pan-O-Prog baby Crawl-A-Thon in Lakeville, Minn.
As reported by Sun Thisweek, the trouble began after 10-month-old Berkley Bailey was disqualified after winning her heat, having been judged to have scooted, not crawled, in contravention of the rules. Pan-O-Prog President Diana Neameyer argued that the rule requiring babies must crawl on their hands and knees establishes a level playing field, while Berkley’s mother Samantha believes the rule is unfair to babies with disabilities or ones that “just a unique way of getting around.” After all, that’s the only way Berkley has ever crawled.
If you think this is the first time the baby Crawl-A-Thon has been subject to a rules controversy, think again. The fine people in this Twin Cities suburb take their baby crawling as seriously as they take their hockey:
Neameyer said the issue first arose at the race last year when a baby crawled like a bear, on his hands and feet.
He finished the race first, but was also disqualified, because Neameyer said, “When you do it that way, you are a speedster.”
For those Crawl-A-Thon neophytes unsure what a bear crawl looks like, this is what Neameyer is referring to. And to her credit, this little man certainly looks like a speedster:
But Neameyer isn’t necessarily a rule enforcing maximalist, and she has been known to allow alternative crawling styles:
This year, they allowed eligibility for a baby who “army crawled” by pulling himself forward with his arms because his knees were on the floor and he was using his legs.
As Americans, I think you can agree that all we ask for in our rule making bodies is consistency, whether we are talking about the NBA or the Supreme Court. And however unpopular her position, Neameyer is being consistent. The army crawl clearly uses the hands and knees, while both the scoot and the bear crawl do not. While this rule may be arbitrary, aren’t all rules ultimately arbitrary? And at least this one is applied consistency.
Unfortunately, the uptick in challenges to the crawling rules, as well as the other problems I imagine beset the Crawl-A-Thon—steroids, arrests for crawling under the influence, legal challenges—seems to have worn Neameyer down:
“We just try to keep it fair for everybody,” she said, “We’ve been doing this for years and have not had a problem, All of the sudden, we have people having problems with Baby Crawl-A-Thon. If it gets to be a real issue, we’ll just cancel it. It’s not worth our hassle and stress to try to appease everyone.”
If nobody else will stand up for the proper crawling babies of Lakeville and greater Dakota County, I will. Rule administrators are necessary to prevent an anarchic society, and Diana Neameyer is one of the best we’ve got. If she has to disqualify the stray baby now and again, so be it.