Is Winning 100-0 Bad Sportsmanship?
There has been quite a bit of buzz over Sunday’s firing of Micah Grimes, formerly the head girls basketball coach at Dallas’ Covenant School, for refusing to apologize for his team’s 100-0 victory over Dallas Academy. CBS11 has the details:
The coach of a Texas high school basketball team that beat another team 100-0 was fired Sunday, the same day he sent an e-mail to a newspaper stating he will not apologize “for a wide-margin victory when my girls played with honor and integrity” and posted a detailed explanation on a hoops Web site.
Kyle Queal, the headmaster for Covenant School, said in The Dallas Morning News online edition that he could not answer if the firing was a direct result of Grimes’ e-mail disagreeing with administrators who called the blowout “shameful.” On its Web site last week, Covenant, a private Christian school, posted a statement regretting the outcome of its Jan. 13 shutout win over Dallas Academy. “It is shameful and an embarrassment that this happened. This clearly does not reflect a Christlike and honorable approach to competition,” said the statement, signed by Queal and board chair Todd Doshier.
Grimes, who has been criticized for letting the game get so far out of hand, made it clear in the e-mail Sunday to the newspaper that he does not agree with his school’s assessment. “In response to the statement posted on The Covenant School Web site, I do not agree with the apology or the notion that the Covenant School girls basketball team should feel embarrassed or ashamed,” Grimes wrote on www.flightbasketball.com. “We played the game as it was meant to be played. My values and my beliefs would not allow me to run up the score on any opponent, and it will not allow me to apologize for a wide-margin victory when my girls played with honor and integrity.”
From one account, Covenant ran up the score:
A parent who attended the game said Covenant continued to make 3-pointers — even in the fourth quarter. She praised the Covenant players but said spectators and an assistant coach were cheering wildly as their team edged closer to 100 points. Covenant was up 59-0 at halftime.
But Grimes disputes that charge:
After 3 minutes into play, we had already reached a 25-0 lead. Like any rational thinking coach would do, I immediately stopped the full-court press, dropped into a 2-3 zone defense, and started subbing in my 3 bench players. This strategy continued for the rest of the game and allowed the Dallas Academy players to get the ball up the court for a chance to score. The second half started with a score of 59-0. Seeing that we would win by too wide of a margin, running down the clock was the only logical course of action left. Contrary to the articles, there were only a total of four 3-point baskets made; three in the first quarter, and only one in the third quarter. I continued to sub in bench players, play zone defense, and run the clock for the rest of the game. We played fair and honorably within the rules and in the presence of the parents, coaches, and athletic directors for both Covenant School and Dallas Academy.
The game itself was a bit of a mismatch:
Dallas Academy has eight girls on its varsity team and about 20 girls in its high school. The team remains winless during the last four seasons. The academy boasts of its small class sizes and specializes in teaching students struggling with “learning differences,” such as short attention spans or dyslexia.
Covenant is a private, religious school. It can fire Grimes for pretty much any reason. Whether beating an outmatched opponent is “Christian” 100-0 is outside my expertise. But is it unsportsmanlike? Spook66, titling his post “Only in America,” doesn’t think so.
Coach Grimes and his players have nothing to apologize for. True, some Covenant fans were still screaming for points late in the fourth quarter, but there’s no indication that the players or their coach broke the rules, or deliberately tried to humiliate their opponents.
In case you’re wondering, there is no “mercy rule” in the private school league that includes Dallas Academy and Covenant. There is a golden rule that discourages blowouts, by keeping the clock running or allowing the losing team to simply throw in the towel. To their credit, Dallas Academy decided to keep playing, despite the lopsided score.
From our perspective, the only “shameful” behavior in this matter has been demonstrated by Covenant administrators and the Morning News. Since the one-sided game became a national story, school leaders have actually tried to forfeit their victory and issued that feckless public statement. Somewhere, Vince Lombardi is spinning in his grave.
Unfortunately, the Covenant girls’ basketball team has become an unwitting victim of its own success. In a culture obsessed with “feelings” and “participation,” matters like winning an losing become trivial. That may be fine in tee ball, but at some point, kids must learn that life doesn’t offer trophies to all participants, and being the best at something does matter.
I tend to agree. If Dallas Academy thinks its kids are too vulnerable to endure humiliating losses, it should disband its basketball team. Or drop out of conference play and simply play intramurally.
At the prep level, where sports are supposed to be purely about teaching, I think this topic is at least debatable. Oddly, however, it exists at the Division I and even professional level, too. There is constant whining in college football about the best offenses continuing to score against outmatched opponents, even those within the conference. On occasionally even sees the charge hurled in the NFL, although not nearly as often given the relative parity that exists.