The 100-0 Blow-out: Should the Coach of the Covenant School Have Been Fired?

Posted January 26, 2009 by

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Recently, the story of the high school girls’ basketball team who beat their opponents 100-0 hit home with me, partially because it reminded me of the years my husband spent coaching. Rather than this being news about the decision of one coach in Texas, I think this is also a testament to the bad situations facing coaches everywhere. They are working non-stop, typically have good hearts, are trying to meet the administration/school budget goals of creating teams that perform well and meet parents’ expectations of competitiveness, but THEN when they really need the support and backing of the parents and the administration, they are left to flap in the wind.

Where was the coach’s staff during this event? He surely was not the only adult in the decision-making role here. Was the rulebook consulted? Did the referee allow the game to continue? Was the school’s athletic director or principal available for consultation? Did the coach discuss the state of the game with the other coach at half time?

To have a coach fired over this situation is something that I have to disagree with. There are also many unanswered questions. In all fairness, did the coach instruct the kids to hit all 3-pointers and to talk trash to the losing team, or did the coach instruct his players to be good sports and play the game? Was the coach intentionally encouraging bad sportsmanship, or was he just hoping the time would run out on the game so they could get this difficult situation over with?

NO coach is proud of a win when there is no competition at all. And no coach would offer a forfeit to help the other team save face either. Most teams would rather lose than get a “pity win” since pity teaches the kids nothing except to stop trying so hard and to stop caring. The forfeit is just a PR ploy that keeps the school looking good to the community, because honestly, school administrations and athletic departments¬† do not have the time or the budgets to address issues or flak related to sports (much less law suits!!) The schools have enough on their hands devoting resources to truancy, No Child Left Behind, gangs/violence, lack of staff for developmentally challenged kids, etc. Sports programs are there to help with fundraising, create fun and provide extracurricular enrichment. If sports get to be problematic, it is always the administration’s way to take the easiest route and placate parents and community criticism (which causes more bad behavior). Coaches, sadly, are viewed as dispensable, and firing them is often seen as the final answer to a difficult situation, instead of making it an opportunity for growth and discussion and improvement that would benefit kids.

About

Annita Wozniak grew up in a large, imperfect family in the Midwest. "As adults we have the power to build children up or tear them down," she says about the challenges of being a responsible parent, "and we never know when what we say is going to be a defining moment in a child's life." Woz is a writer and child-grower living in the Midwest with her husband and their three inspirational children. She is always learning. You can visit her website at annitawoz.wordpress.com

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  1. Common Sense Report

    From what I have read, the winning team continued to play a full court press and take 3-pointers throughout the game. They were trying to reach 100 points. Any coach with an ounce of sportsmanship (or compassion) would have taken off the press with a 20 or 30 point lead. You don’t tell your players to stop playing hard, but you should not be running up the score, especially when there is such a discrepancy in team abilities. A coach can play his second or third string players, try new offensive plays, or other strategies to challenge his players to hold down the score. Too many youth coaches are in it for their own glory and not to teach the kids the life lessons that youth sports are all about.

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  2. Iowa Mom Report

    Winning and losing gracefully are life skills that children must learn to be able to function as productive, successful adults. Unfortunately the trend in both sports and academics is to shelter children from failure and mistakes therby removing from children the opportunities for valuable learning experiences – learning from mistakes, finding ways to grow from failures and finding self-esteem from overcoming challenges.

    When sports teams are not allowed to play to their fullest potential for fear of seeming unsportsmanlike or for fear of hurting the other teams feelings, children on both teams lose. The more talented team loses the chance to celebrate and be rewarded for their hard work and talent. The lesser team loses the chance to accept defeat with dignity and to recognize areas for improvement in their skills.

    Similarly in the classrom, the trend of not giving grades and test scores to students devalues the work of all the students.

    Are we to become a society of the “lowest common denominator” where achievement and success and the ability to rise above the rest of the crowd is somehow wrong? We should celebrate skills and achievement in all aspects of life, and teach our children how to deal with life’s little blows and setbacks.

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  3. tnt1963 Report

    I don’t know enough about this particular situation to make many comments. However, the little I do know, I do NOT think the coach should have been fired. What ever happened to playing to win? If the Covenant girls were talking ‘trash’ to the defeated team, well, that’s a whole ‘nother issue, isn’t it? That has NOTHING to do with scoring. and what do you mean by “running up the score”? If the other team can’t defend their turf, then they lose fair and square and should lose gracefully. I have two children. They are being raised to WIN. However, we are raising them to win (and LOSE!) with dignity and grace. You can’t be a real winner without first having lost many times over. And a real winner/leader loses with grace & dignity but always comes back! We are teaching them that when they play, they play to win within the rules & fairly.

    Sports isn’t a “get to know you” activity. It’s for competition. And to learn skills. Negotiating skills. Strategizing skills. Physical skills. Friendships are a by-product of playing together as a team.

    That’s all I have for now.
    Thanks.

    Reply
  4. Connie Report

    I played girls basketball in high school many years ago and we were not the best team, and I was by far not the best player. With that said, I do some commentary to add in hindsight. What I think should have taken place is for the coaches to agree on a mixed-team scrimmage in this one instance, once the score got beyond 60- that way, the team that is weaker could mix it up with the stronger team and together build some comaradaerie and through that perhaps friendships would be made and not this strife. That also would have addressed stemmed accusations of “unchristian” or poor sportsmanlike conduct.Perhaps the winning coach could have invited the losing team to one of the girls houses for a post game review for the first half and the coaches together could have given pointers to both teams.

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  5. Annita Report

    Joe, you are right on with the concern for the opposing team’s capabilities. But I believe the athletic director who schedules games should have been aware of skills and should have scheduled games where competitition would be appropriate. Is Covenant a powerhouse or a struggling team as well? SHould covenant have been playing in this league at all? What agreements were made prior to the game to make competition fair and appropriate?

    You made an interesting point about running up the score, too and why it is done. I understand from another bball player/coach that it is actually very difficult to get a score to 100 in 4 short 8 min quarters…Was the game run to full finish time or did it get cut off at 100 point cut? Anyone have any stats on the game?

    ANd isn’t it interesting that in our society, in this age of many kids participating in sports/extracurriculars, that we accept that poor sportsmanship is ok when the other team has done it to us first?

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  6. Joe Rabbitt Report

    I am a youth soccer coach and a former professional athelete. In youth sports I have been on both ends of the situation where my team was either much more skilled or much less skilled. I have experienced coaches “running up” the score both as a coach and as a player. I think the general concensus of real skilled atheletes is that you never run the score unless the other team had done it to you. Quite frankly running the score is basically poor sportsmanship. There is a point when the outcome of a game has been determined to be over. At that time it’s incumbent upon the coach to either put his “second string” players in the game or simply try not to score without embarrassing the other team. In the case of the 100-0 game there is another issue that this coach simply demoralizing children who obviously participate on a recreational level. As I understand this situation the children were LD kids. Also, I’m a parent of several children two which are atheletically gifted and one who is LD/Dyslexic that enjoys sports however is not athletically gifted. from my perspective I cant imagine beating up on kids who have learning disabilities. To make my point, If the more athletic kids were playing against kids who were physically handicaped would it then be ok to beat the pulp out of them? These kids were LD handicapped! It was the right thing to fire that coach. Moreover in my opinion that coach had no business coaching kids and I suspect he/she was not qualified to coach beyond a youth level nor played any competitive sports himself beyond a high school level. Most kids quit sports before the are 12yrs old because it’s not fun anymore. This example supports that statistic. Lastly, I agree that professional and for that matter college sports should be played to win but youth sports are a whole different situation that require coaches with a sensitivity to the spectrum of skill levels of kids and that most the kids will never play sports beyond 12yrs old and very few will play in high school and even fewer will play in college and probably none will play professionally. This coach was clueless!

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  7. Annita Report

    Yes,Joe! I agree on monitoring prior to firing. Think of a professional company where cases are reviewed and lessons learned are shared between the professionals. Coaches are leaders, but their jobs require cooperation between many others to do a complete job. It is starting to come out that the girls on Covenant team are sharing that they did learn lessons about winning, and being respectful of the opponent, they did not learn this from their coach being fired.

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  8. Joe Report

    I have coached my children in sports for several years. I have been on both sides of this issue and neither are comfortable. The amazing thing is that the children get over it quicker than the adults. I don’t know how such a mismatch was allowed in the first place. As a coach and player you give your time,effort and energy to play a game. It is a shame when you show up on game day and something like this happens because you feel all the work you did was for nothing. However, there are other things that can be taught during this type of event such as winning with grace and compassion or not giving up during difficult times. I don’t think the coach should be fired but there should be some monitoring going in these schools and make sure that winning does not override the true meaning of playing a game which is learning life’s lessons of how to win and lose graciously with dignity and respect for your opponent.

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