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Something has been bugging me recently and I guess it all started with an article I read on ESPN about a week and a half ago. If you follow High School Football I’m sure you’ve read it as well: A High School team in Texas puts up 91 on a team and a parent from the other team filed a bullying report with local police. Everyone I talked to about it answered with the usual eye rolls and anguished sighs of “What are you supposed to do, take a knee?” or “Is this really what it is coming to?”
And I agree with every single one of them.
Throughout my life I have been face to face with many coaches who are super hesitant to play their better players if they have any significant lead after a certain point in the game (usually halftime). They usually say one thing:
“You don’t want to run up the score because you wouldn’t want it to happen to you!”
I’m sorry, I’m not planning to suck any time soon.
Plus, is it running up the score if you are just scoring at the pace in which you were first scoring? It so isn’t. It’s continuing-at-a-steady-pace the score. It’s jogging the score. It’s airport-walkway-the-score. They just keep coming at the same rate..
Why is playing a game to completion, with all your best parts, such an issue? And isn’t the true score of a game what it would be 1’s versus 1’s, for the duration of the game?
Outside of the semantics of the logic, there is a hypocrisy in the nature. Any good (PR-conscious) High School Football Coach will tell you that they just don’t win games – they mold men. They will stand in front of you and pontificate the ways in which playing the sport of football is relatable to life. They will yell at your kids as they struggle behind the group “Life won’t go easy on you!” And then, on Friday night as the work everyone did throughout the entirety of the week is about to be fulfilled, the second string goes in. Because “you don’t want to run up the score.”
Would this ever happen in the job market? People get rich by being ruthless and making the right decisions at the right time. Not by letting the other team score to feel better about themselves.
(Tangent: Is the fair and equal society of sports a bit socialist in nature? Am I close to defining football republicanism? Am I a football republican? What would a football democrat be? I think this is getting a little off-topic.)
Can we just be real and call this what it is? Coaches don’t want to score a lot on another coach for fear if they need their help down the road. Not everyone spends 60 years at a school. Eventually you need to find new work and you don’t want to be black-balled. That’s why coaches don’t want to run up the score.
The other side of this is the parent-component of the story. The seeming certainty of the situation is the parent who filed the report was just pissed and wanted to screw up the other staff’s week. But then there is the increasingly overwhelming possibility that the parent actually thought this was bullying – which is concerning on so many other levels.
For the days after this story, talk shows around the tv-universe debated if this was an example of the newer generation’s “everyone gets a trophy” society.
The premise of the “everyone gets a trophy” society is that you are raising kids who develop a higher level of self-esteem. The fatal flaw of this theory is that everyone wins. Not everyone wins. If everyone is a winner I wouldn’t be writing this fucking article. I’d be writing Oscar-winning screenplays and doing coke of off Natalie Portman’s breasts in my downtime. Where’s my fucking trophy for that, youth league soccer?
The point is if you eliminate failure you eliminate learning how to win. And I think there is a dangerous portion of that in this story in addition to all the things the coaches (had to have) said. You can’t file bullying charges and be redeemed of a 91-0 trouncing. The only way to do that would be to put the work in to beat them next year. I don’t think it is as much an issue of sportsmanship as it is pandering – to other coaches, to over-protective parents, to a society too impatient to wait for due things in due time.
Quite honestly, I’d love to see someone file a neglect charge on whoever is culpable if the bullying charge actually sticks. Argue that the way they are raising their kids is damaging to their future psychological stability. That would be awesome. But probably really far-fetched.
Those are just my thoughts though. Maybe I am a product of the Madden score-at-all-costs generation. Maybe I am a little desensitized to the emotional effects of scoring. Maybe I think that last sentence was complete and utter bullshit. I don’t know. All I know is that I really hope that situation in Texas doesn’t become a trend. I think it threatens the nature of the sport (and life) if we regulate who plays and when and by how much can they score and if they failed to hug someone after making the tackle below the neck and above the waist in the center of the area where the numbers reside.
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