The Problem with Exceptions
November 22, 2011
Picking up where my last blog left off, this posting presents two more of six lessons that experience has taught me during my enriching years with the MHSAA.
Lesson No. 2: Beware of bad precedent.
An exception today that doesn’t seem to matter much is almost certain to be recalled and used against you tomorrow when it really does matter. People have poor memories for most things, but they have long memories for exceptional things, like making an exception to a rule.
A corollary to this lesson is that “no good deed goes unpunished.”
Lesson No. 2 is closely related to Lesson No. 3: The path of least resistance usually is not.
Making an exception for a squeaky wheel will likely lead to more noise, not less.
One corollary to this lesson is that there will be more fallout when people believe you have ignored rules than when people believe you have been heartless in applying the rules as stated.
A second corollary to this is that following the rules is the safest harbor during stormy seas.