I doubt that many agree with the Texas father who cited the Aledo High School football team for bullying after it crushed his son’s Western Hills High School football team 91-0 last week.
Blowouts happen all the time in sports, especially at the high school level; and while they are difficult to justify, they don’t constitute bullying.
Most everyone who has ever played a game or a sport has had days when they were humbled by an opponent.
Most understand that it’s the chance you take by putting yourself out there.
Some even use the experience of falling flat on their face as motivation to train harder and prepare better so that it won’t happen again.
But bullying is something else entirely.
It is a form of intimidation used to establish dominance over another person, and it is a very serious problem in our nation’s schools.
I think what we have here are two separate issues, and the Texas father who filed the bullying complaint is simply guilty of confusing them.
While a 91-0 score isn’t bullying, it is a sad example of the lack of class that exists among some youth sports coaches.
Just because you can put your foot on your opponents’ neck when they’re down doesn’t mean you should — especially when that opponent is just a kid playing a game.
I covered a basketball game a few years ago in which the home team led 91-20 with less than a minute to play. The coach of the winning team called a time-out and instructed his players to shoot nothing but 3-point shots so they could get to 100 points. Sadly, they achieved their goal at the final buzzer.
That’s a complete lack of class, and I told the coach that when I talked to him after the game, to which he replied, “The kids were just having fun, and they earned it.”
The kids on the losing team were trying to have fun, too. Did they “earn” the humiliation they received?
Most coaches do understand how their actions affect players from both teams, and they at least try to constrain their teams in blowout situations.
In fairness, Aledo coach Tim Buchanan did begin pulling his starters out of the game in the second half after his team went up 53-0 and he did ask for a running clock in the fourth quarter.
But the Aledo football team has won its seven games this season by an average of 77 points, so this was obviously not an isolated incident.
The Arizona Interscholastic Association stipulates that teams use a running clock when either team leads by 42 points or more, but that still hasn’t kept teams from running up the score on lesser opponents.
The only way to prevent it is for coaches to show a little more class. A good example of this was displayed by Camp Verde’s head coach Steve Darby last Friday.
After his team gained a 42-0 lead over Greyhills Academy early in the second quarter, Darby not only began pulling his starters, he instructed his players not to score another touchdown and to simply attempt a field goal whenever they got inside the 20-yard line. On two occasions, Camp Verde players actually ran out of bounds inside the 5-yard-line rather than score a touchdown.
“There’s no reason to score 70, 80 points on a team like some of these teams do,” Darby said. “That’s not classy and that’s not honorable, we’re not going to do that.”
Now that’s class.
For the full story, please see the Wednesday, Oct. 30, issue of the Camp Verde Journal or Cottonwood Journal Extra.