Life’s not fair.
That’s a hard lesson for parents to accept, especially when it comes to their children’s happiness. But it is the truth, and Central Catholic High School wrestler Cristian Dominguez is learning it the hard way.
After a harrowing home-invasion robbery, Cristian was released from a hospital with a minor gunshot wound and went to the Sac-Joaquin Section Wrestling Championships in Stockton, the first step toward the state championship meet in Bakersfield. He won his first match, but was later disqualified for not having a medical clearance to wrestle, robbing him of any opportunity to advance. Circumstances, a breakdown in communication and tight time constraints worked against the 15-year-old.
Cristian and his family were victims of a home invasion that began at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. David Dominguez, Cristian’s father, was hospitalized and Cristian was treated for a shot in the arm and released. He was back in school Thursday. Student athletes are required to have an annual physical to participate in sports, according to California Interscholastic Federation rules. But when there’s a serious injury or illness, the medical clearance to return to the sport is left up to the school, said Sac-Joaquin Section Commissioner Pete Saco.
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David Dominguez clearly believed the release from the hospital was sufficient for Cristian to wrestle. Thursday night, some 24 hours after the home invasion, he said he read part of the medical release to CCHS athletic director Billy Hylla, and was under the impression his son was OK to wrestle.
At 7 a.m. Friday, Hylla said he realized the family had not met the school’s requirements for Cristian to compete. After winning his first match, and one hour before Cristian was scheduled to wrestle again, the school disqualified him and forfeited the match he had won.
The confusion over what constitutes a doctor’s medical clearance vs. a hospital release goes to the heart of this matter. Time worked against Cristian. A day more and the misunderstanding probably would have sorted itself out.
Many observers are chafing at the perceived injustice to Cristian, angry the young athlete was deprived of his chance to advance.
But schools and businesses require medical clearances to protect themselves from lawsuits. If Crisitian had been hurt, and the injury was attributed to the wound he received, then the school could have been sued.
Cristian has talent, as evidenced by the way he dominated his first opponent. He’s a freshman, so he will very likely have other opportunities to wrestle. And although the world might seem to be conspiring against him, it’s not. He has an unparalleled experience to share – the story of fending off four assailants and then winning a wrestling match hours after he was injured, with a shotgun pellet still in his arm.
And he’s learning a valuable lesson: Life’s not fair.