Since When Is Winning A Football Game “Bullying?”

Aledo HS

A High School Football Coach faces a bullying charge because his team recently beat a rival 91-0:

The parent of a North Texas high school football player has filed a bullying complaint against a rival team’s coaching staff after a 91-0 loss.

The undefeated Aledo Bearcats have made a habit of soundly defeating their opponents this season. After seven games, the team is outscoring the opposition 485-47.

A Western Hills High School parent filed the bullying complaint after Bearcats defeated the Fort Worth school 91-0 on Friday.

“Never; I’ve never heard of a bullying report in a football game,” Aledo coach Tim Buchanan said Monday.

Buchanan said he started substituting players in the first quarter. He also said the game clock ran continuously starting toward the end of the third quarter.

But when asked why the team did not simply start kneeling the ball — in effect, stop trying to play the game — Buchanan was clear in his answer.

“To go out and tell your kids, ‘No, I don’t want you to play hard, because we’re ahead,’ that’s against every fundamental coaching strategy that you have,” he said.


Superintendent Derek Citty said his district will take the complaint just as seriously as it would a complaint that a group of students within the district is picking on a classmate.

Several parents of Western Hills players who attended Friday night’s game described the loss as embarrassing. One parent, who declined to speak on the record, said that the Aledo coaches could have made more of an effort to keep the score down.

Buchanan insisted he and his fellow coaches did exactly that.

“In actuality, we probably could have scored a lot more,” he said. “We did try to keep it down. I was really fearful that we were going to score 100.”

Other reports have been more detailed about the manner in which the Aledo coach did what seems to be his best to avoid running up the score, but like he said, what can you do tell the kids not to play the game? Perhaps there ought to be a “Mercy Rule” in situations like this, or maybe the team at the losing in of such a lopsided score could consider forefeiting the remainder of the game. Or, maybe, you just let them play and let the chips fall where they may. Calling this “bullying” is just plain ridiculous.

Photo via Fort Worth Star-Telegram

FILED UNDER: Education,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. sec says:

    Name the parent who thought this was a good idea!!

  2. Rbaron321 says:

    Supreme Silly

  3. The coach in me says “let them play”, because I don’t want my kids getting hurt pulling up.

    The player in me is saying if I was on that other team, I’d have been aiming at knees.

  4. rodney dill says:

    Bullying is the new catch all for behavior someone doesn’t like. Which is probably part of why reports of bullying are kup.

    Didn’t anyone else see that coming?

  5. Franklin says:

    This is stupid. The solution isn’t to tell one team to play half-ass or quarter-ass or whatever. The solution is either a mercy rule as mentioned above, or to put the teams in different divisions. They’re clearly not in the same league (figuratively, but it should be literally).

  6. DC Loser says:

    Life sucks. Learn to deal with it when you are in a tough situation. Just because you’re down by a lot of points doesn’t mean you give up. The losing team’s coach should be telling his kids to go out there and do their best and be dignified in losing and not whining about the other team. Teach them how to deal with the unfairness of life in their future lives.

  7. Kenny says:

    What you don’t see in this story is the real detail. From a local Aledo publication:

    “The Aledo Bearcats just proved “Time of Possession” is the most worthless stat in football when evaluating the winner of the game. Aledo possessed the ball a total of 7:08 in the game versus Western Hills at 40:52. The Bearcats won the game 91-0.

    “The Bearcats rolled up 537 total yards on only 33 offensive plays for an average of 16.2 per play. The Bearcat defense held the Cougars to 172 total yards on 63 plays for an average of 2.7 yards per play.”

    Here’s a live blog of that game, if you’re interested, also from the Aledo Sports Daily:

  8. PJ says:

    The undefeated Aledo Bearcats have made a habit of soundly defeating their opponents this season. After seven games, the team is outscoring the opposition 485-47.

    I doubt that the team is THAT good, so I can only assume that the other teams aren’t very good at all.
    That, most likely, will end up being a problem for the Bearcats in the playoffs.

    Maybe they should focus on getting better opponents next season…

  9. Kenny says:


    There seems to be some larger issues involved. The Aledo Sports Daily, again:

    “The current state of affairs in Fort Worth schools are a direct result of the administration abandoning their athletic teams. There are some very classy and fine football coaches in FWISD who have their hands tied due to a lack of support from FWISD.

    Rather than rehashing a sore subject, my commentary earlier in the year still applies. Basically, FWISD started the ball rolling on the demise of their athletic teams by offering their coaches a “buy out” bounty in 2011 to leave the district.”

  10. cg says:

    @PJ: Actually they are that good, but Fort Worth teams are bad too. In fact all of Aledo’s teams are that good, so is their band and their academics. Almost every girl team went to state last year and the football has won state 4 times. They do play 5A teams before district play starts and they romp them too.

  11. ptfe says:

    @Kenny: The liveblog also belies the coach’s assertion that he was trying to keep the score down the entire 2nd half.

    Aledo’s 9th TD of the game came 5 minutes into the 2nd half. It was thrown by the starting QB to the RB who had already run for a score and returned a pair of punts for TDs in the first half. According to the liveblog, defensive players were being mixed in midway through the 2nd half, while the backup QB didn’t come in until 3:00 were left in the 3rd quarter and Aledo was up 77-0. The team scored 14 more points with the backup QB under center, but it took over a quarter to do that. Oh, and Jess Anders, the running back who scored 3 1st-half TDs and had 183 yards of total offense in the 1st half, was still getting the ball at the start of the 4th.

    While the “bullying” claim is bizarre, this is a coach who let the game get ridiculously out of hand somewhat through carelessness. He’s obviously got a potent team that can absolutely destroy this particular opponent. But when you’re up 42-0 with 9:00 left in the 2nd quarter, you should be breaking up your starting QB/WR/RB group in favor of backups, no matter how many snaps you’ve had. By the time it’s 77-0, you should be riding all your 2nd- and 3rd-stringers.

    Also, what the heck kind of wacky scheduling do they do down in Texas? Teams are regularly blowing each other out in h.s. football — scores in the 70+ range are not uncommon.

  12. JWH says:

    I thought it entered the realm of “bullying” when the Bearcats’ offensive line began Riverdancing while blocking.

  13. Kenny says:

    @ptfe All fair.

    They did it on special teams and 33 offensive plays. So while backup considerations do have merit (and we’re only left with the ‘when” as a subjective issue) there’s still another lesson. “Hey, backups, you work just as hard as our starters. Go out there and take it easy.” (Which is, the saying goes, when injuries start.)

    There are an abundance of lessons to be learned from a sporting disaster. (The first of which is, this is sport.)

    So you look at the other team. Their coach was quoted in the major market media as not having a big problem with it.

  14. Gavrilo says:

    “Superintendent Derek Citty said his district will take the complaint just as seriously as it would a complaint that a group of students within the district is picking on a classmate.”

    That’s the problem, right there.

  15. ptfe says:

    @Kenny: I certainly don’t advocate the backups taking it easy. You go in with a roster and you let the players play the way they’re trained to. But when your roster goes deeper than 1 quarterback and you take a 42-0 lead in a dozen plays, you seriously consider benching the quarterback.

    You’re right, 1 defensive TD (that made it 77-0) and 2 special teams TDs notched up the score a bit. And the opposing coach is equally right to be happy everyone on the field was going all-out and playing according to their ability without being dicks about it. Sounds like discipline on the field isn’t an issue. It’s the coach that bothers me here, because he apparently (a) didn’t understand that he was winning by a huge margin midway through the 2nd quarter or (b) didn’t care and let his 2nd- and 3rd-stringers sit on the bench while the starters ran another few plays and tallied a few more meaningless touchdowns.

    I’ve seen games that were disasters for the offense and special teams, games where the score goes up into the 50s and 60s because players are making mistakes left and right and no amount of substitution by the other team can change it. This doesn’t appear to be one of those games.

  16. mantis says:

    They are learning from Republicans, who consider winning elections “tyranny.” When the other side wins, that is.

  17. T T tate says:

    @ptfe: @ptfe:

    I was at the game, and you have mis-read the blog. The 2nd half passing TD you are referring to was Aledo’s first offensive play in the 2nd half. Multiple and frequent player substitutions were occurring throughout the first half on both sides of the ball. The coach’s practice in the 2nd halves of games throughout the years is for his starting offense to have at least one series to start the 2nd half – regardless of what happened in the first half. It was a 1 play series. It made the score 63-0, not 77-0. After that, most if not all of the starters did not play anymore. The third string QB played in the first half, and almost all of the second half. The TD that made it 77-0 was a fullback dive. Also, a couple of the 2nd half runs the blogger attributes to Anders were actually by Mallory. All of Aledo’s uninjured RBs got carries, and even some wide receivers/tight ends got carries from the RB position.

    And no you don’t bench your starting QB and RBs/WRs early in the first half (after only 10-15 snaps) just because you score every other play or so. You have to get game time reps in preparation for the state playoffs which start in about a month. You get some reps, even if it is with the second and third string linemen, and then get them out of the game.

    And yes, it was that kind of game – bad football. Western Hills could stop nothing – even with Aledo’s second, third and fourth strings. Aledo could have scored 150 if they had wanted to.

  18. Phillip says:

    @Kenny: Good link, thank you.

  19. superdestroyer says:

    I suspect that Aledo High School is the one good football team in the area. Being a far suburb of Fort Worth, I suspect that anyone who has sons who look like they are good in football move into the Aledo School District to be eligible to play for the winning team. IAW, Aledo is a legally stacked team that was cannibalized the talent from the surrounding area.

  20. Scott says:

    Aledo is ranked first in the state among 4a teams. It will beat most teams, including the largest 5a teams. It sounds like Aledo did not really try to run up the score. The other team had the option of forfeiting but it chose not to.

  21. John P. Squibob says:

    Back in the day, the “rule” was that once you got far enough ahead (around 28 points) a coach would have the offense only do straight blocking – no traps, counter plays, reverses, etc.

  22. jd says:

    The Redskins lost to the Bears 73-0 in 1940. They didn’t cry.

  23. Boyd says:

    I refereed a high school football game similar to this (but not so extreme) in Maryland back in the ’90s. The weaker team was just getting spanked, and their players’ frustration just exploded. The losing coach wisely forfeited the game in the 3rd quarter.

    But it appears that nothing (other than the score) got out of hand in this situation. The father here needs to grow a sack and admit his son’s team sucks. This “complaint” is patently ridiculous, and I’m ashamed that a Texas school district is going to treat the complaint with anything less than the contempt it so richly deserves.

  24. rodney dill says:

    @jd: Bears don’t cry… they just suck.

  25. rodney dill says:

    An interesting thought (at least to me). If anyone covered it above I missed it.

    What about the responsibility of the ‘losing’ coach. Why did he leave his team on the field to continue to ‘intimidate’ the bully. They could’ve just walked away and withdrawn from the game.
    One could say the ‘losing’ coach had the responsibility to forfeit the game and pull his team out from being ‘bullied’. Would the ‘bullying’ have continued had he withdrawn? I doubt it. (It it had contiinued then it truly wouid be bullying). People are so stupid.

  26. Just Me says:

    In nh there is a mercy rule of sorts-once the score hits a certain point (I can’t remember exactly but it’s something like three or four touchdowns) they use a running clock where it doesn’t stop for any reason during the quarter other than a time out.

    Also nh doesn’t use a district system-they use a division system based on school size and athletic success (teams are initially placed in a division based on school size then can petition up or down depending on success in that division). The generally avoids really good teams from large schools destroying bad teams from smaller schools-I say generally because some schools will still donate their divisions due to other factors.

  27. Franklin says:

    @T T tate: I think you and Kenny and ptfe are arguing a minor point here – did the coach start substituting early enough? Should he start at the end of the 2nd or beginning of the 3rd? I don’t know the circumstances of the starting RB getting the ball in the 4th, but maybe he had missed some reps earlier in the season and coach felt he needed a couple more. The fact is, he probably could have made it 140-0, but he didn’t.

    The real problem here is the adminstration or district or both, having these completely mismatched teams play each other.

  28. Franklin says:

    By the way, in disagreement with Mr. Dill, I believe bullying is an actual problem. But like rape and any other he-said/she-said, it will occasionally but rarely be claimed without any basis in fact. In this case, the facts are quite clear and summarized perfectly in the title of this post.

  29. rodney dill says:

    @Franklin: I think you misinterpreted what I said. I never said that I didn’t think bullying was an actual problem. I don’t think there is evidence it necessarily occurred during this game where both teams mutually consented to participate in the competition. (That doesn’t preclude any extracurricular activities of pushing, shoving, or taunting that wasn’t handled correctly by the refs). But this post wasn’t about that, it was about running up the score as ‘bullying’, which in my view didn’t occur.

    (As I stated in my first comment higher up in the comments, I do think its now a catch all phrase and some incidents that are not really bullying are being called that out of convenience or retaliation. That is not to say the actual bullying, isn’t a problem.)

  30. grumpy realist says:


    Oh good grief. Don’t put your ass in the field against an obviously superior rival and you won’t get such lopsided losses.

    Either that, or develop better strategy. Football does have some, doesn’t it? Find a coach with the strategic capabilities of Hannibal at Cannae.

    “Bullying.” Good grief.

  31. Oh well says:

    The word “bullying” is thrown around these days for any situation that another cannot emotionally cope with. Football games ARE lost. It is obvious that this is a poor team match up. Sure, nobody likes to lose, but in a competitive sport….somebody does. The Aledo coach did everything possible to maintain a lower score without insulting his own players and robbing them of opportunities. That is not bullying, it is using skills and abilities to a minimum. This parent has created a beast that you cannot feed…..first of all, he disguises his poor sportsmanship as bullying of the losing team players. He has made his son and his team look like a bunch of kids screaming “sour grapes”. We have bullying practices in place in this country for “true” bullying, and this parent belittled and twisted that practice to serve his own lack of sportsmanship. The fallout of dealing with a “bullying” allegation goes beyond the scope of a “patty smack”, and this parent should be ashamed of himself for utilizing this as a means to “pay back” the winners of a child’s game!

  32. JWH says:


    The Redskins lost to the Bears 73-0 in 1940. They didn’t cry.

    Honestly … if there are a few waterworks, I’m OK with that. A good athletic competition can involve a lot of high emotion. Sometimes it leaks out as tears. But filing a lawsuit over it is different.