OK, It's about time for the annual blog post. I promise to try and do better this year, but note that I don't say I will do better, just promise to try. That kind of doublespeak is what you get for hanging around with my boys for too long.
In the last couple of days, I have had two unrelated conversations about what is decent and fair in sports concerning high school teams and the final score.
My eldest son plays 7th grade basketball, the 8th grade team (which they travel with and is very good) played last night and after the first quarter were up 24-0 and leading 37-1 at half-time - at which point we left for a two hour drive home in the snow. Now looking at the scoreboard this looks like a clear case of running up the score. I don't know the final score, but I have to think it was 60 plus to less than 10.
However, there are 18 boys on this basketball team and at least a dozen of them are very good players. They handle the ball well, run more than I ever did as a kid and play as a team very well. Last night's opponents had 11 or so boys (many smaller than our team's) and quite honestly couldn't buy points - missing layups, free throws and having macy shots roll around and out. The coach had third and fourth string players in during the second quarter.
Against that, our old school which is small and rural (10-15 kids per class) got beaten 50 something to 10 earlier in the week and at an unrelated community meeting I heard a lot of complaints about this "running up the score". This also reared it's head in the NFL with our old friends the NE Patriots doing it a few years back.
Now having been on both sides of a big loss (and actually having been yelled at while coaching Little League for winning 10-1 and asking for a rule interpretation that led to an out for the other team), I have strong opinions on this.
In short, I really don't think teams need to apologize for:
1. Being more talented than the other team
2. Working harder than the other team
3. Trying to make sure the rules are followed
4. Having more luck than the other team.
Not playing your hardest against another team is as disrespectful as winning by 70 points. You're saying we are so good we are not taking you seriously.
Now should you play full court press, steal home, take timeouts to give you a better shot at scoring more points maybe not. But if you're better than the other team, that's life. By arguing that we should not try 100% to be the best we can at all times, all we are doing is propagating a mindset that if I don't work hard, someone will bail me out or change the rules to help me.
And that is too prevalent in our society to begin with.