Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

A Youth Sports Blog

The blowout of blowouts

with 2 comments

We have a Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools girls’ basketball final: Covenant 100, Dallas Academy 0. No word if Covenant fans got a free taco once the team reached triple digits.

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Not surprisingly, a score like this has resulted in a lot of soul-searching and teeth-gnashing about how much of a margin is too much, especially against a team from a school devoted to learning-disabled children, a team that hadn’t come close to winning a girls basketball game in four years of trying. Dallas Academy canceled its season, and Covenant is taking grief for not letting up after taking a 59-0 halftime lead.

From the Dallas Morning News:

Against Covenant, Dallas Academy was surprised to see an obviously superior team keep the pressure on until it scored its 100th point in the fourth quarter. “I’m sure they could have won by 30 points and still had just as good a time,” [athletic director and coach Jeremy] Civello said.

Civello, as is his custom, didn’t say anything to anyone from the opposing school after the game. He always allows for a cooling-down period. A week later, he has not been in contact with anyone from Covenant.

In a brief e-mail statement Wednesday evening, Covenant coach Micah Grimes called his team’s 100-point total “unfortunate.”

“It just happened, and we are not happy about that,” Grimes wrote. “Please know Covenant intended no harm against them. I see this as a real learning opportunity, so we can prevent this from happening in the future.”

Grimes was not available for further comment.

Kyle Queal, head of school at Covenant, a North Dallas Christian school, was not at the game, but he said there have been internal discussions about it and that more are coming.

“It was poor judgment,” Queal said. “I look at the box score and look at the box score, and it was not justified. It will never happen again.”

Edd Burleson, director of 236-member TAPPS, had a different description. He called the Class 2A, District 3 game an “embarrassing incident.”

“Our motto is ‘Competition With Honor,’ ” Burleson said. “I can’t see how the one school can live up to that.”

Anonymous comments following the story noted how Covenant fans classlessly cheered for every score. And we all know anonymous comments left on the Internet are ALWAYS the most accurate and well-reasoned interpretation of events.

Obviously, I wasn’t at this game. Nor was the Morning News reporter who wrote about it. So I don’t know for sure whether Covenant was really trying to rub it in.

The problem is what you do at any level of youth sports when it’s clear that the disparity between two opponents is so profound. How does each side, in effect, preserve the dignity of the other?

Again, not having been at the game, I can’t automatically say, ooooo, evil Covenant. After all, it scored only 12 points in the fourth quarter, so it was stepping on the brakes a little bit. The story doesn’t mention how long the starters played, but if the anonymous comments are to be believed, Covenant only has six players, so it’s not like emptying the bench and sitting the starters was an option. Even if it were, it’s harder for a coach to corral players who normally don’t get a chance to score. If anything, they’ll play a lot harder than the starters. Those players are going to want to take advantage of the chance to work on their own games in a live setting. A coach can tell the players to back off, but if a pass is thrown right into their hands and they have a straight shot at the hoop, that’s a hard opportunity to turn down.

And while it’s great that Dallas Academy wants to give girls a chance to say they played varsity basketball, perhaps the school is correct in re-evaluating whether interscholastic competition in that sport is what’s best for all involved. The school fields plenty of other teams that perform well, but in girls sports it’s hampered, according to the Morning News story, because it has only 20 girls (compared with 120 boys). As for the game itself, you might ask, why not just call it at halftime? Well, because if you have a game scheduled, everybody deserves to play all the way through. And perhaps the Academy coach wanted something positive, even one basket, to take from the game.

If you’ve been a youth sports coach or parent, you know that blowouts will happen, though maybe not to this extreme.

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My coed fifth- and sixth-grade team had two straight games where it was blown out by a combined total of 64-5. It wasn’t pleasant hearing parents of the other team cheer lustily when their kids were hitting baskets to put their team up 30. But I also realized that some of the kids hitting shots hadn’t scored points all season, so if this was their shot at scoring glory, so be it. I also wanted my team to learn a lesson at how to conduct yourself when you’re getting rocked. Namely, don’t quit, and remember how this feels, not only as an inspiration to make you better, but also to know how the other team feels if you put a similar hurt on them.

If there’s going to be any clear villain in this Dallas Academy debacle, the story implies (and some of anonymous commenters say right out) that it might by the contingent of Covenant fans who cheered not just for their own children’s success, but also for Dallas Academy’s failure, hoping their team would hit 100 and/or shut it out. If you’re that proud of it, fans, I except you to be sporting “100-0” shirts the rest of the season.

If nothing else, the Dallas Academy coach has taken something positive from his 100-0 blowout. From the Morning News:

Later on the 100-0 night, Civello told his girls the life lesson they could take from their loss: “I told them someday they will be on top in a similar situation and they should remember how they felt when some people were cheering for a team to score a hundred points and shut us out. Hopefully, my girls all learned a lesson in sportsmanship that will last them a lifetime.”

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2 Responses

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  1. Great piece, Bob–counter-intuitive, but really gets to the heart of the matter. It seems pretty obvious the game was going to play out this way, or something like it; if you don’t want that to happen, why put it on the schedule? It’s hard to blame the kids for playing basketball in a basketball game, even if the outcome makes people want to point fingers.

    Dan Janzen

    January 23, 2009 at 10:49 am

  2. A coach is in charge of his/her team. Kids listen to the coach or they are benched. The coach could easily commanded his team to pass the ball 20 times before shooting, or call off the press, or no one takes a three pointer. There are many creative ways to give the “bench-warmers” a chance to contribute and fine tune their skills withouot running up the score. A GOOD coach recognizes this. A good reporter would recognize this whole event for what is was. Poor coaching with a side of fan ignorance.

    Marc Bostan

    January 23, 2009 at 3:04 pm


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