UPDATE: Coach, Athletes Speak Out After 'Bernie' Dance Controversy

The Perry Hall High boys soccer coach said he disagreed with but respected the principal's decision to cancel the team's season.

UPDATE (Nov. 5, 5 p.m.)—The Perry Hall Gators beat James Hubert Blake High School 2-1 on Saturday. Perry Hall will now advance to the Class 4A North region final against Westminster on Tuesday.

Find live game coverage and commentary in the article, Live: Perry Hall Beats Blake in Post-Bernie Playoff Game.


UPDATE (Nov. 5, 1:30 p.m.)—Check out our live chat of the Perry Hall boys soccer post-Bernie dance playoff game against Blake.

Patch's Nick Dimarco will provide live updates, photos and video from the sidelines. Readers can join the conversation on Twitter or directly in the article. Game starts at 2 p.m.


UPDATE (Nov. 4, 12:16 p.m.)—Perry Hall High School Principal George Roberts announced Friday during a news conference that the decision to end the boys varsity soccer season early had been reversed.

The Class 4A North region semifinal game between Perry Hall and Blake High School will be played at 2 p.m. Saturday at Blake in Montgomery County.

Check Patch for video and updates, in the article, .


UPDATE (Nov. 3, 7 p.m.)—An anxious crowd of students and parents gathered around Pete Eibner, head coach of the boys varsity soccer team, Thursday afternoon in the school's parking lot.

Follow Perry Hall Patch on Facebook and Twitter.

Eibner said he wanted to ensure his players were behaving "like gentlemen" after school principal George Roberts canceled the rest of the team's season, a disciplinary action against players who performed the so-called Bernie dance after a playoff victory against on Tuesday. Had Perry Hall's soccer season not been halted, the team would have continued in the playoffs.

Earlier Thursday morning, students held a demonstration across the street from the school protesting the season's cancellation. Police responded but there were no arrests, said.

Read more about the protest in the article, .

Eibner, a first-year coach who works as a personal trainer, said the dance was miscontrued by parents of Dulaney players and the was a misunderstanding.

Perry Hall senior Ethan Muller scored the game's winning goal in the last two minutes of the playoff game. Afterward, players gathered around Muller, who was standing near Dulaney fans, and performed the dance, Eibner said.

"We feel really remorseful about it," said Muller. "It was a heat of the moment thing ... If the game ended on the other side of the field we would have done the same thing. We didn't purposefully go out to taunt them."

"We've been working together since we were freshmen and to end it like this is just sad," he said.

Eibner said the allegations against the boys were inaccurate.

"I think it's unfair from the standpoint that the kids were accused of doing something malicious, intentional, lewd, vulgar and unsportsmanlike," he said. "They didn't have malice in their hearts as the celebrated. They were celebrating with themselves."

The so-called Bernie dance is an updated reference to the 1989 comedy Weekend at Bernie's in which the title character, who is dead, has his actions directed by others which results in an awkward limp animation. Some Dulaney fans felt the Perry Hall players' actions were disrespectful.

Read more about the response from Dulaney parents in the article,.

The decision to cancel the season was announced Wednesday at 3 p.m., by  Roberts and athletic director Bob Hruz, Roberts said.

"Children should celebrate by cheering each other, giving high fives, hugs and pats on the back. But in my view, a choreographed, celebratory dance is not the way to celebrate victory," Roberts told Patch in an interview Thursday morning.

While Eibner disagreed with the decision to end the players' season early, he said he supported the principal's decision and respected his authority.

"I am not here today to undermine the principal," he said.

Eibner encouraged students to be respectful of the principal and refrain from doing the Bernie dance on school property.

Senior Chris White said he felt nothing but sadness after hearing about the season's cancellation.

"We've got 10 seniors on the team this year and soccer is our lives," White said. "We just want to be heard. We want our season back. We want to play (Friday)."

Senior Ryan Carter said he still didn't understand what was inappropriate about the dance.

"I've never seen a team, rec-level, club-level, high school, professional, where teams don't celebrate when they win a quarter-final regional game," Carter said. "That's insane to just stand there and not do anything."

A small group of parents also gathered outside the school on Thursday to support the team.

Vinnie Magliano, whose son Vinnie is a senior, said he was outraged when he found out the season was canceled. 

"The dance could have been construed as wrong. I understand that, but to end the season? These kids worked hard for that," Magliano said.

Carrie Ayd, the mother of a sophomore lacrosse player, described the Dulaney parents who complained about the dance as "sore losers."

"If the principal isn't willing to stand up for his own students, then the parents have to," Ayd said. "If the tables were turned and this were [my son's] lacrosse team, I would hope other parents would come out and support the players, whatever sport, because it's wrong."

Max Carreras November 04, 2011 at 03:43 PM
It is truely awful to see the sadness brought to these player so close to finishing their season with a possible trip to States. Being a former athlete for the school myself I know how these gusy feel. Sports on any level is a thing of passion. When you put your heart and your soul into your game, to have it forcibly taken away from you without due process or alternative options... It's like driving a knife into your heart. I won't sit here and bash my former principal but I will call him out on making a completley rash and over-the-line decision on cancelling the next game knowing that it meant knocking them out of Regional Championships. The recognition it could've brought to the school would have been more than substantial. And he just threw it away due to unheard of emails from the Dulaney parents (excluding the few who didn't react the way the majority did, for that we all commend you). I know Perry Hall athletes and they would never react in such a way that they (Dulaney) did. Hopefully our girl's soccer team can bring one home for everybody with their next win. Support Boy's Varisty Soccer at their protest today at 11:30 A.M. and continue to cheer for Girl's Varisty Soccer as the advance to their final match of Regionals on Tuesday at CCBC Essex next week.
Marje Lentz November 04, 2011 at 03:46 PM
The pricipal has just lowered his principles in giving in to the preesure. They know they were wrong, I hope they handle Saturdays loss as well as Dulaney did, and since dancing is now allowed, I hope the "team" is prepared to see one in thei face.
tracy persing November 04, 2011 at 03:52 PM
WOW Just got a pre-recorded phone call from Mr. Roberts he is taking back the punishment and the boy are getting to play!!!! YEAH for them!!!
stephanie November 04, 2011 at 03:56 PM
Sounds like you must be a sore loser who didn't make the soccer team. C'mon people lighten up. It's sad that kids can't have any fun these days! And yes freedom to express yourself/speech was violated.
Nick DiMarco (Editor) November 04, 2011 at 04:04 PM
You can read the updated story here: http://patch.com/A-n1sF More updates are on the way.
virginia November 04, 2011 at 04:43 PM
"Doing the Bernie" :) what is so wrong with doing the bernie?? a victory dance? Have you seen the many offensive cheer leader moves?
stephanie November 04, 2011 at 05:01 PM
Good Luck Boys!!!
Tom Cunningham November 04, 2011 at 05:03 PM
Now that the issue game forefeit issue looks to have been resolved which is minor, there is a bigger learning issue here and that is by Mr. Roberts actions forcing these players to write apology letters to the DHS over the Bernie dance. The real issue of concern is did Mr. Roberts violate the players constituional rights? After reviewing the constitution and previous similar cases and after careful review I asserting the following claims: He did willfully  (1) violation of freedom of speech under the First Amendment;  (2) compelled written apolgy in violation of the First Amendment;  (3) violation of the right to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. I have contacted the ACLU concerning this and believe anyone who cares about liberty, freedom of speeech & expression and the 4th admendment should also contact the local chapter here at: ACLU of Maryland 3600 Clipper Mill Rd., Suite 350 Baltimore, MD 21211. Telephone: (410) 889-8555
MD November 04, 2011 at 05:06 PM
Celebration happened during the match. The referee is the one person who administers the rules of the match. If no penalty was called by the referee, then that is the end of the story. If we allow parents and even school administrators to encrouch upon the authority of the referees ( of any sporting event) then we are heading down a slippery slope that will ultimately result in the undermining of the game officials responsibilities. Respect for the referee's decisions is critical to the game. The actions of the principal and of those that may have complained to him show a lack of respect for the officials. If the opposing coach or administrators have an issue with a referee's call they may report voice/write their complaint/opinion to the state atheletic office and head of officials. Principals and parents with game whistles is a very BAD idea. Leave it on the pitch!
kira muller November 04, 2011 at 06:57 PM
thanks to the media for covering this incident and the communities across america who have supported our boys. and thanks to mr. roberts for reversing his decision. he's a good man. the disciplinary action for the boys has yet to be finalized, but at the very least, the boys will be taking a class in sportsmanship. the parents have recommend that the also boys produce a sportsmanship presentation which will be presented to all student-athletes at perry hall high school, so in learning this lesson on what is perceived as poor sportsmanship, they are able to share this knowledge with the other student-athletes. the parents and boys have also decided that they would like to show their thanks to the perry hall community who supported the cause, and volunteer their time and services. if you'd like to have the boys assist your organization with a project or volunteer time, please respond to me here. thank you.
Voice O. Reason November 04, 2011 at 07:05 PM
"Post-game celebration". Not during the match.
Voice O. Reason November 04, 2011 at 07:10 PM
Tom, It's overly-litigious idiots like you who are ruining society. I'm sure you also scream about how bad your back hurts and call the lawyers from the car when you have a fender-bender and sue when you spill the hot coffee from Mickey-Ds on your lap while driving and texting.
Tom Cunningham November 04, 2011 at 07:14 PM
I am reading coments saying what a good guy Mr. Roberts is for reversing his decision. He is not the good guy and he thinks he is right about his actions. Maybe the overwhelming outpouring against his lack of judgement had something to do with him folding the opposite way like a cheap suit. He still believes their conduct was unsportmans like, that why he is making them take an online course on sportsmanship and he would still have forfeited the game but he HAD to do something because it was he who failed to fully investigate the incident and vette it properly. Simply stated Mr. Roberts "screwed the pooch" and now he is trying to save face over his lack of decision making skill and poor judgement.
Tim November 04, 2011 at 07:27 PM
Tom: As students at a school (and minors), parents give implied authority to principals, teachers, and other faculty which covers your claims here. Your case has zero standing, any claim that went up through the court system would ultimately be thrown out due to a lack of standing to sue on behalf of the plaintiff. I honestly approve of the current set of punishments for this (writing apologies, taking a course on sportsmanship). He made a poor decision, and he rescinded it and modified it appropriately.
Tom Cunningham November 04, 2011 at 07:28 PM
@Voice O. Reason: Never sued anyone and do not even have a lawyer. But since your a genius I ask you, who is destroying or more harmful to society more, people bringing forth frivoulous lawsuits or people trying to destroy the constitutional right and protections of others like the Mr. Roberts? Do you not agree by forcing the players especially the ones not involved in writing an apolgy letter violated their rights? Now you can be refered to as Voice O idiot.
Tom Cunningham November 04, 2011 at 07:39 PM
@ Tim We give implied authority for principles and teachers the implied authority for them to willfully violate our childrens rights and protections to be violated? Do not think so you only have to use Google and search "student civil rights violations" and you will get 20,900,000 results. Never said it should go to the courts but an investigation is now warranted. I do not approve of the punishment as no violation occured according to the game officials. If these players and coaches need to take sportsman course than so does everyone playing or coaching sports at PHHS, and to ensure equality in the system everyone participating in a school sports system within Baltimore county must do so as well. Mr. Roberts opened pandora's box.
Tim November 04, 2011 at 07:44 PM
Tom: The kids were guilty of poor judgment and poor sportsmanship. They represent a school. Just like at your work place, you don't have the freedom to be a jackass (so to speak) whenever you feel like it because you drape yourself in first amendment freedoms. I think Mr. Roberts was setting himself for 'possible' litigation if he had followed through with the forfeiture. I don't believe it'd have been successful either, but it sure would have looked much worse for him if he stayed the course he set Wednesday. Perception is reality to most folks. Anyway, off to the pub, have a nice one!
Voice O. Reason November 04, 2011 at 08:11 PM
Tom, listen to Tim. He makes a hell of a lot more sense than you. Your google law degree isn't worth $.02. And thank you for admitting that this would be a frivolous lawsuit. Of course writing a letter of apology and taking sportsmanship training do NOT violate anyone's civil rights. This is a much more appropriate outcome for the original inappropriate action by the students. Way to go Mr. Roberts! Lessons learned by all involved (except, of course, you Tom. I'm sure you'll not admit learning a thing).
Emily Kimball (Editor) November 04, 2011 at 08:47 PM
VIDEO: Soccer Players, Students Dance the 'Bernie' Outside School -- Was it appropriate for students to do the Bernie after the decision to cancel the season early was reversed? http://patch.com/A-n1ZK
Don November 05, 2011 at 12:40 AM
I agree with Tom,I think Mr Roberts jump the gun on his decision he should of investigated both side before making a final decision.
Tom Cunningham November 05, 2011 at 12:58 AM
@ Voice O Idiot: Well my internet law degree and as a taxpayer of this state and a member of this community will let the lawyers of the ACLU decide if an abuse has taken place just like the law and MY freedoms allow me to do. Remember just because someone else did not like it there was never an official breaking of the Laws of the game.
kelly November 05, 2011 at 02:27 AM
The problem is the ref's arent enforcing the rules. There needs to be a serious review of what is not be called and controlled by them. They should not be determining the game. Shame on the coach for allowing the behavior. Control the players. The "dance" was meant to be aggressive toward the fans. Otherwise it would not have been done in front of the home teams stand. Perry Hall- be honest about it.. Your school has a reputation for unsportsmanlike behavior during games-and your know it.
Tom Cunningham November 05, 2011 at 02:57 AM
@Kelly: Specific to HS soccer the laws differ slightly from the FIFA Laws to the HS Laws in that they have the decision concerning taunting. Of course, “taunting” is totally “in the opinion of the referee” ( the 5 most important words in soccer)but, if the referee decides a player’s action IS taunting, HS rules call for the taunting player to be disqualified (sent from the field) with a red card (Rule 12.8.3b). The referee might also choose to consider the action as coming under 12.8.2a which results in a yellow+red card (the so-called “soft” red — player can be replaced). In either case, the operative word is “disqualified,” which means that the player HAD to be sent from the field. If not sent from the field, then it wasn’t taunting (or the less serious but, in my opinion, arguably more apt “delayed, excessive or prolonged act by which a player attempts to focus attention on himself and/or prohibits a timely restart of the game”). Basically if the referees did not card and penalize the offender(s) than no foul has been committed which is pertinent in this issue.
exrugger9 November 05, 2011 at 04:13 AM
Mr. Roberts made a bone-headed decision and sold out his students. Kudos to him for recognizing he made a mistake, that takes a lot more guts than he showed originally. Now if only some of our national leaders could follow the same tactic.
Tom Cunningham November 05, 2011 at 04:24 AM
He was forced to make a change this is obvious by the bent arm behind his back. The pressure put upon him by the press, parents, community and local politicians made him change his decision. He still believes his decision is right. If you saw the live presser today he showed no empathy or remorse but he was shaken and nervous.
Diana McNamee Palewicz November 05, 2011 at 02:43 PM
Wow, isn't this over yet?? It has been made clear by all parties involved here that it is more than 1 particular group at fault: 1. The PH boys shouldn't have done the dance, but in their defense, they are depending on the guidance of the teachers/mentors and with being allowed to do this in the past without any consequence, there would be no reason for them to think they are not allowed to do it now. 2. Mr. Roberts made a hasty decision without looking at all of the details first, but I applaud him for reversing his decision and giving the boys a proper and more educational punishment. 3. Coach Tana should never have sent an email based on hearse from his spouse and parents, but I applaud him for admitting that he didn't see it himself and he was caught up in the hype from the parents and that he didn't it find it to be offensive once he watched it. 4. The Dulaney parents, with the exception of the few who actually took time to remove themselves from the hype of other parents and form their own opinions and find out what the dance was, should be ashamed of themselves for being so sour. Everyone is saying "you need to win with grace" well, you also need to "lose with grace". 5. DHS athletes actually have been taunting PH teams since this, no one that has been bashing PH has touched on this when it is brought up, hypocritical much? And I know first hand sour behavior from that camp is the norm.
Emily Kimball (Editor) November 05, 2011 at 05:58 PM
UPDATE (Nov. 5, 1:30 p.m.)—Check out our live chat of the Perry Hall boys soccer post-Bernie dance playoff game against Blake. Patch's Nick Dimarco will provide live updates, photos and video from the sidelines. Readers can join the conversation on Twitter or directly in the article. Game starts at 2 p.m. - http://patch.com/A-n2QY
Emily Kimball (Editor) November 05, 2011 at 09:27 PM
UPDATE (Nov. 5, 5 p.m.)—The Perry Hall Gators beat James Hubert Blake High School 2-0 on Saturday. Perry Hall will now advance to the Class 4A North region final against Westminster on Tuesday. Find live game coverage and commentary in the article, Live: Perry Hall Beats Blake in Post-Bernie Playoff Game -- http://patch.com/A-n2QY
Emily Kimball (Editor) November 08, 2011 at 11:37 PM
UPDATE (Nov. 8, 6:30 p.m.)—Check out our live chat of the soccer Perry Hall boys soccer post-Bernie dance playoff game against Westminster. Patch's Nick Dimarco will provide live updates, photos and video from the sidelines. Readers can join the conversation on Twitter or directly in the article - http://patch.com/A-n6WM
Emily Kimball (Editor) November 12, 2011 at 03:48 PM
UPDATE (Nov. 12)—We're going to be live chatting (http://patch.com/A-nDCN) the Gators next run in the state semifinals. The boys are entering their third post-Bernie match against Walter Johnson High School tonight at 7:30 p.m. Help spread the word about our live coverage on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/PerryHallPatch) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/#!/PerryHallPatch). Patch's Nick DiMarco will provide live updates, photos and video from the sidelines. Get involved in the conversation using Twitter hashtags or by commenting directly in the live chat on the article. See you there (http://patch.com/A-nDCN).


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