A Florida high school defeats another 83-0.
An Arizona quarterback throws for a record nine touchdowns in a 67-0 blowout victory where even the second and third strings played most of the second half.
A coach in Connecticut could possibly be suspended for winning 56-0.
What do they all have in common?
They are all being accused of being unsportsmanlike.
I’m sorry if I sound old-fashioned, but this is absolutely ridiculous, and this is coming from a former player that’s been on both sides of a blowout.
Let me start with the winning sides first.
In all three cases, backup players were used, even dipping into the third and fourth strings. These are players that wouldn’t play unless this very circumstance happened, and yet they kept on scoring.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but that sounds like a coach trying to alleviate the embarrassment, rather than ratchet it up.
If they had kept their first string on the field, save that Arizona quarterback, then I might be inclined to agree with you. But, as the winning coach in the 83-0 victory pointed out, if you pull your starters too early, they might not be ready for next week’s game.
If the next game is against a tougher team than your opponent, then you might want to play them a bit more than the spectators care to.
Second, in all three cases, the coaches defended themselves by saying that no matter what string players are on, they were all instructed to play hard and play to the whistle. Unfortunately, that’s put one coach (the Connecticut coach) in hot water. According to the rules of the Connecticut governing board, no matter what the score is, no matter what you try to do to keep the score down, you can’t win by more than 50 points.
One problem: What happens if you can’t control your scoring? In all three cases, turnovers, blocked punts, and a myriad of other things made it so they had almost no choice but to score. In fact, according to Chaminade-Madonna (FL) coach Tim Tyrrell, he of the 83-0 dismantling:
“We did not go into the game looking to score that many points, and a lot of them came in bunches and off big plays. We only had one real drive; the rest came on short fields."
Does that sound like a coach who is trying to run up the score on a team that probably had no chance in the first place?
I think not.
Now, let’s focus on the losing team. Obviously, everybody is embarrassed that they just lost 56-0, 83-0, or whatever. All that can really be said here: welcome to real life. People are going to try to decimate you in every aspect of your life, but the real measure of your character is how you bounce back from that blowout. Most times, you come back madder than ever, and woe betide the team that has to play you after that blowout.
Another thing that people seem to forget is this: these are high school kids, most of them aged somewhere between 15 and 18 years old. I’m sure that by the time the score got out of hand, most of them were thinking about what was for dinner when they got home, what they’re going to do after the game, and so on.
In short, while they may care at the moment, after they pull off their pads and get on the bus or get in the car to go home, they’re going to forget about it and get on with their lives.
Some people said that they were embarrassed from their team winning by that much. There’s a really good question to ask some of these people: Do you honestly think that they were trying to score 56, 83, 90, or 67 points? The answer is an obvious one: absolutely not. Most times, it just turns out that way.
Such is the unpredictability of sports, as in life: One week, you might win 10-7, the next week, you can’t stop scoring.
Unsportsmanlike conduct? I don’t think so.
Sure, the score may be lopsided, but the accusations of unsportsmanlike play by these teams are absolutely ludicrous. The coaches can’t do anything about how high the score gets, except for giving bench warmers playing time and doing everything within the rules to keep the score down to a manageable level.
They’re not trying to be unsportsmanlike, they’re trying to save a lot of embarrassment, just like these people’s parents claim their kids are feeling. Unfortunately, it just isn’t working out that way.
So, before you blame the coach or the team for blowing out some hapless team, just remember: They’re mostly all high-school kids. There’s going to be a time soon where you can’t protect their feelings anymore, and there’s no better time than the present. Sometimes there’s going to be times where the score just gets out of hand, and there’s only one thing you can say in that situation:
“Kid, welcome to real life. It’s going to knock you down and run all over you, just like it did tonight. But, as Rocky Balboa once said, ‘It isn’t how many times you get knocked down, it’s how many times you can get knocked down and keep moving forward.’”
Josh McMullen played offensive and defensive lineman for Dolgeville High School, the 2002 New York State Class D runner-up, from 2002-2004. He has been on the winning side of several blowouts, the biggest being a 62-7 victory over long-time rival Mohawk High School in 2002. He has also been on the losing end of blowouts, the largest being a 49-7 blowout by three-time state champion Onondaga High School in his final game in 2004.