Still a loser after scoring 100 pointsWritten by Dave Woolford | | firstname.lastname@example.org
One hundred to 0. Mercy, mercy. The big winner was Covenant School in a recent girls’ high school basketball game against Dallas Academy.
The big loser was Covenant School.
Mercy? Mercy? There’s no mercy in girls’ high school basketball!” to slightly rephrase actor Tom Hanks’ great line from the movie “A League of Their Own.”
We leave items such as benevolence, compassion, respect and honor to the control of coaches, administrators and parents. They often leave such items by the wayside in pursuit of the imperative goal, winning at all costs; the margin of such victories a measure of superior competence with accompanying ego stimulation.
All Covenant School had to do was show up, and victory was theirs against the Dallas Academy, which consists of 20 female students, eight of whom were on the basketball team.
It’s a team that had not won in more than four years, a team with no seniors, a team that found a small measure of solace in just hitting the backboard and took a total of only seven shots in the game.
Pushing all of that aside, as Covenant was more than willing to do, its girls shot 3-pointers and pressed at times with an assistant coach reportedly joining spectators in cheering wildly as their glorious girls approached 100, the ultimate completion of the carnage.
For the winners, will it be something to brag about for years to come or will it be a source of embarrassment, something not worth even mentioning for fear of reprisal from those who believe in sportsmanship, fair play and integrity?
The latter holds precedence.
Covenant apologized with a statement on its school Web site that used such words as “shameful” and “embarrassment,” along with a reference to it not being “Christ-like.”
The school’s head coach, Micah Grimes, disagreed and was fired.
In an e-mail posting, Grimes stated, “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 an opponent, and it will not allow me to apologize for a wide-margin of victory when my girls played with honor and integrity.
“I believe in the lessons that sports teach us. Competition builds character and teaches us to value selflessness, hard work and perseverance. As a coach, I have instilled in my girls these values. So if I lose my job over these statements, I will walk away with my integrity.”
Character? Values? Integrity? Is that what Covenant and its coach took from this slaughter? Most certainly not.
Grimes later posted this message: “It just happened. 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.”
This is an admission of guilt and it could have easily been prevented. It didn’t “just happen.” Passive restraint could have been the order of the day, but these were children again guided by misguided adults. How about no 3-pointers, no press, no fast break, more passes and longer possessions. Those restrictions could have easily been imposed after halftime when the score was 59-0.
Granted, shifting into a submissive posture can be difficult at times. Telling kids not to play their hardest, to back off on defense and play keep-away is a hard sell. It’s a submission to shaping such things as class, respect and moral fiber.
Yuck! Right, coach Grimes?
I witnessed the same thing at a recent soccer game. One team was superior. The coach of the runaway leader told his players not to shoot, to control the ball, but not embarrass the opponent. A soccer mom representing the opposing team who was intent on displaying her hearty lungs and lack of astuteness, screeched that the other team was “just playing around” with her son’s team and was “embarrassing” said team when the opposite was true.
There’s the argument that Covenant School should not have had to apologize, that its girls played hard, deserved to rack up 100 points and that Dallas Academy knew they were pitted against superior talent and if they didn’t want to accept that, they shouldn’t have scheduled Covenant School.
The lessons in sports stretch far beyond just winning and losing. There are also very noble lessons in humanity to be learned, as long as they don’t get in the way of winning, of course.