Garden City football coach David Ettinger decided to sit out last Saturday’s game against Elmont after receiving a written warning on October 25 for violating Nassau County sportsmanship rules aimed at preventing teams from achieving the result.
Ettinger said he chose to miss the match after thinking about what he could have done to avoid violating the rule that requires a coach to explain the steps he took to not win the match by more than 42 points. Garden City defeated MacArthur, 49-6, on October 23.
“I thought about it a bit and it bothered me that I couldn’t make the switch, that the match was over,” Ettinger said. “If I’m going to hold my kids accountable for their mistakes, I’ll rise to the same level. I have to lead by example. And that’s not us, not who we are as a program because we’re all about sportsmanship, and I have great respect for MacArthur and the coach.” [Bobby] Ferenbach”.
The nine-person Nassau Football Committee, which is made up of directors, directors and athletic supervisors, can impose a suspension if it feels the coach has not done enough to keep the score close. In 2019, Pledge coach Rob Schaeffer was suspended for one game after his team’s 61-13 victory over Southside. After Shaver’s suspension, Nassau amended the rule to include warnings. Suffolk County does not have an unbalanced outcome base.
The victory over MacArthur was the fourth time this season that Garden City had broken the rule. On the first three occasions, the committee felt that Ettinger acted appropriately in not attempting to increase the score, and no penalty was inflicted. But after winning by 43 points over MacArthur, the committee decided that more could have been done to avoid the lopsided outcome.
“David came to me and said he wanted to discuss sitting outside the Elmont game,” said Bob Panarillo, director of athletics for the Garden City School District. “He felt he could have done things differently to avoid breaking the rules. I was in agreement with what he thought was right. I supported him in the decision and reported to our management.”
Ettinger said he called Fernbach and Elmont coach Guy Hegge to explain his plans to miss the Elmont game, which Garden City won 34-0.
“I thought he should have told us he was planning to sit outside,” said Pat Bizzarelli, executive director of Division Eight Athletics, which governs Nassau schools. “He must have realized in getting over it that he could have done more to avoid the problem. That is why the rule is there to make people think and try to avoid these situations.
“I’ve always loved David Ettinger and am not surprised by his decision. I can appreciate his reflection on how it all happened and making such a statement by sitting in a game. The people on his show, coaches and players across the county. David Ettinger understands that.”
Ettinger will be on the sidelines when Garden City host Elmont in their quarter-final match on Saturday.
Garden City, Newsday’s top team, beat Baldwin, 50-0, on Sept. 11, closed in on Valley Stream Central, 49-0, on Oct. 9 and beat Mipham, 49-0, on Oct. 16.
Against MacArthur, Garden City advanced 42-6 early in the fourth quarter when quarterback Luke Schmidt threw a long pass into the third and 16th of Garden City’s 15-yard line.
“I could have done something different there on that last flight,” Ettinger said.
Schmidt’s pass found Robert Votropa wide open at 85 yards and a 48-6 lead with 9:56 on the left in the game. The rule violation came when kicker Dennis Fargoni added the extra point to make the score 49-6.
“I care deeply about this program and how we are viewed,” Ettinger said. “We had a lot of blowouts and handled them appropriately… I could have done better.”