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Fair Play and Fighting Spirit


Here's another good story on the gray area surrounding "mercy" rules—policies aimed at curbing vicious blowouts that are fairly common in high school sports. This article, from the AP, is set in Nebraska, where lopsided scores in girls' basketball —92-18, 72-13, 92-11 and the like—apparently occur pretty regularly.

The story does a good job of adding some nuance to the discussion of mercy rules that emerged a few weeks ago in the wake of a Dallas girls team's 100-0 demolition of a rival. In some games, even when the white flag goes up, and coaches take out their starting players, or the game is put on a running clock and thus brought to an end more quickly, it does very little to stop the onslaught, if one side is woefully outmatched. It's just not that easy.

This reality was reflected in the philosophical perspective offered by Omaha South coach Ricky Ruffin. You might be philosophical, too, if your team had lost by a score of 92-8.

"Did we expect to score just 8 points? No. Did Southeast run up the score on us? No," he said in the story. "They're the No. 1 team and they shot lights out. We turn over the ball more than 30 times a game, so they're going to get easy baskets.

"Could they have beaten us worse if they wanted to? Yes."

I wonder if creating more high school sports districts, to prevent contests between the larger and smaller schools would help. Then again, in a rural state like Nebraska, school sports teams are generally forced to look for opponents anywhere they can find them.


I feel that school districts should make sports a more fair game for larger and smaller schools. I thought that was why schools were divided into divisons that depend on the schools popualtion. Each school should be given a fair chance to win or lose a game against other schools. Schools should be matched up according to size and popualtion, so each school is given the same opportunity to win. Schools cannot help who is on the team which means some schools could have more talent then others, but that is something that schools cannot control.

Once I was a soccer mom. It only lasted one year. My daughter played on her school's team. It was a Spanish immersion school in the throes of transition from K-5 to K-8. From grade 5 through grade 8 her class were the oldest. They were a single class that kept shrinking (the only way to add students past 2nd grade is if they were native speakers). The middle school rules allowed teams of 7th and 8th graders only (no 6th). In 7th grade they partnered with the French immersion school, similarly situated, just to have enough students to field a team. As neither school had an eighth grade class they not only faced numerically larger teams, but were also outsized.

It was a wonderful experience. When you are playing against those kind of odds, you can do no wrong. They finished SECOND from the bottom--quite an accomplishment, owing to a single win and one forfeit.

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