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Great Moments in Competitive Imbalance: Texas High School Baseball Edition

Apr 7, 2011, 4:30 PM EDT

Lake Highlands baseball

This is what some Orioles fans want you think playing in the AL East is like:

Late on a school night, in a game already delayed because of lightning, Richardson Lake Highlands High School came to bat in the top of the fifth inning leading Dallas Samuell by around 30 runs. Then they scored another 20 or so. The final score was either 53-0, like the scoreboard read, or 57-0, like the winning coach tallied it up.

That’s the intro to an interesting story about amateur ethics (or “etticks” if you prefer).  There’s a mercy rule about ending games like that, but this one was out of hand even before the mercy rule kicked in. There’s a fail safe “we both agree to give up” rule too, but apparently no one really knows about it.  There’s some interesting talk towards the end of the article about potentially turning the end of games like these into mini-clinics, but I can’t help but think that the guys on the losing side really don’t want to be treated like students to the other side’s teachers.

As a parent of kids just getting started in sports, this stuff interests me.  For now, I think the way they do things in my son’s soccer league is the best: don’t keep score, and make sure everyone at least has a snack to look forward to after the game is over.

  1. Vincent - Apr 7, 2011 at 4:34 PM

    I like snacks :)

    • mf44srq - Apr 7, 2011 at 5:08 PM

      Snack should be banned. All you’re doing is developing the future diabetics of america…

      • Andrew - Apr 7, 2011 at 5:23 PM

        So long, orange slices!

      • mf44srq - Apr 8, 2011 at 9:09 AM

        Orange slices, good. Doritos and Capri Sun, bad… I guarantee they didn’t burn enough energy to consume 60g of carb. Do that enough and little Johnny will be needing some insulin supplements in his 40’s…

  2. mf44srq - Apr 7, 2011 at 5:00 PM

    Score should be kept from the time children step on the field the very first time until the very last time. Kids learn invaluable lessons from winning and losing, like what competition is. I bet kids in India and China know what competition is, because they’re being groomed to do our jobs!!! The “Not Keeping Score Crowd” has ruined youth athletics, and the youth that are involved. In our area (SW Florida), youth baseball (13/14) is full of kids that think they’re entitled to a position on a team regardless of how good they are. Andif no one will have them, the parents form their own team, which dilutes the talent pool so much you wind up with results like the above. The kids expect the same thing in the classroom and at home. They think it all revolves around showing up and giving it a go. Try that at college, at a job, the military, anywhere else but youth athletics, and your result will be dropping out, getting fired, or killed… C’mon parents, let your children succeed or fail on there own, and if they fail, do some parenting… It’s called responsibility…

    • Utley's Hair - Apr 7, 2011 at 5:16 PM

      Wow…angry much?

      It’s called proportion, and you just blew this out of it. And who said the snack was unhealthy?

      • mf44srq - Apr 7, 2011 at 5:31 PM

        It’s an appropriate response to an epidemic I wonder if those losing parents knew their kids we’re going to get shellacked… If they did, why did they allow it to happen? Protect and prepare, that all parents can do, and right now, most parents let Nintendo and Cartoon Network do that for them.

    • jeffstern54 - Apr 8, 2011 at 6:53 AM

      Your exactly right. Last year I actually had a player tell me that his father should have only payed half price since he only played half a game. I asked him if his father payed the same taxes in town as the kid who didn’t do as well in school as he did, and since they did then shouldn’t the other kid get an “A” as well since both fathers payed the same amount. He loudly complained that he earned that “A” and I said enough said now go out and earn the innings. We are not doing these kids any favors by not keeping score… That said the coach from the winning team is an ass and needs a lesson in how to handle coaching in a blow out.

  3. okobojicat - Apr 7, 2011 at 5:04 PM

    As a team who has been on the losing end of a game like this, you really don’t want the clinic stuff, you don’t want your coach to quit. You simply play out until the mercy rule comes into effect and then you go home.

    Turning the game into a clinic when you are already pissed off (and believe me, when you get beat by 30, you get pissed off at everyone, umpires, coaches, your SS you can’t field a groundball, the idiotic fan who won’t shut the the hell up even though the game is so far out of reach…) is just pointless. No one wants to be there at that point so it would more sense to simply let everyone go.

    • mf44srq - Apr 7, 2011 at 5:11 PM

      We’ve been on the wrong end of the whipping also. The lesson go back and do it again, this time learning from your mistakes. If the result is different, you learned something. If you get smacked again, you learned you don’t belong and go do something else…

  4. randomdigits - Apr 7, 2011 at 5:32 PM

    Odd place to put in a slam against O’s fans Craig but I guess the good start has made it tougher for you this season.

    I don’t think most O’s fans would agree with your ananolgy I think a better one would be the show they had on a few years ago about two high school shop classes building cars to drag race and one of them gets gifted a brand new top of the line motor to put into their car and the other team has to make do with what they can scavange.

    As for the high school game, couldn’t the losing team have just walked off and forfeited? I think forfeitied sends a bad message but so does what the other team was doing.

  5. scatterbrian - Apr 7, 2011 at 6:03 PM

    What is the point of youth sports if you don’t keep score and declare a winner? What is the point of their participation, other than getting them outside and exercising something other than their thumbs? What is the takeaway for kids if everyone who participates got a ribbon…that everyone wins, or that life is fair? Those are the wrong messages to send kids. I believe sports teach kids about teamwork, setting goals, being humble in victory, and inspiring determination in defeat. Say what you will about video games, but at least they provide these on a different level.

  6. larryhockett - Apr 7, 2011 at 6:04 PM

    Mf’er – It’s a game. For kids. There’s a time for keeping score and there’s a time when teaching fundamentals and sportsmanship is more important than who wins. I don’t know why your manhood is so threatened by the “don’t keep score crowd” or snacks for that matter but your approach seems like it would work really well if your goal is to raise an army of mercenaries instead of well-rounded, mature adults.

    • mf44srq - Apr 7, 2011 at 6:17 PM

      Well Larry, there’s a time for teaching, it’s called PRACTICE!!! And really, mercenaries are just misguided Type-A personalities. They’re found in the workplace, we call them BOSS! The more politically correct we get (no keep score, everyone’s a winner), the farther away we get from the greatest generation this country every saw. The great generation raised the dumbest generation, and we the dumbest generation, are raising the softest generation. Better teach your kids to speak Chinese so they can communicate with their future bosses…

      • larryhockett - Apr 7, 2011 at 6:30 PM

        Now I see how right you are. Those 7 year olds are doomed to a life as underlings if we don’t drill it into their heads to win at all costs. Why didn’t I realize that all those people who keep score in everything they do are actually “winners” in life when I just thought they were “a-holes.” I better get home and let my 4-yr-old know I’ve been letting her win at Chutes and Ladders before she winds up as a slave to her Chinese masters.

      • cur68 - Apr 7, 2011 at 6:48 PM

        mf44srq; I have friends who see Type A personalities a lot too, but they call them “the myocardial infarctions in rooms 4B,C,D,& E”. Keep pouring the pressure on, I’m sure all those kids learned something. I see some version of the “this generation is worse than that generation” and “that country is beating us this, that or the other” a lot, too. It’s a common thing to find on ancient graffiti, so there’s probably nothing much to be gained by acting like this is some imminent invasion-catastrophe to which you are alone privy (tons of it turned up in the ruins of Pompeii and that was a wealthy prosperous city with a thriving culture, in case you’re interested). I’m not deep thinking enough, I guess, to see total societal breakdown in how much one teenage ball team beat another by, but I do think these sports are meant as ways for kids to have some fun and get some exercise, which are things that are undervalued by people who always seem like failed athletes. At some point the “we gotta keep score no matter what” mentality defeats the purpose of “enjoying yourself” and of course “wanting to keep on playing the sport”. Speaking on behalf of a nephew who had a father who sounded just like you mf44srq, all that kid ever learned from that attitude was to become selectively deaf and to swear off sports for a good long while.
        A snack here and there might have helped, too.

      • mf44srq - Apr 7, 2011 at 6:50 PM

        7/8 year olds should keep score at whatever they’re doing. They only feel bad about losing as you make them feel. 4 year olds should be in a sand box and not worrying about running around a soccer field like a drunken kitten chasing a ball of yarn. Chutes and Ladders is not a competitive game, it’s meant for 4 year olds.

      • juicejuicer - Apr 7, 2011 at 6:54 PM

        It’s not about ‘win at all cost’. It’s about learn to pepare. If we allow children to think that it’s okay for them to mail it in, they will be doing the same later in life. If at a young age we teach them that they don’t really have to prepare.That they get rewarded just for showing up. What can we expect when they get to high school? the work force?

      • mf44srq - Apr 7, 2011 at 6:54 PM

        @cur68–> You’re confusing pressure to win with learning how to win and the lessons from losing. I’m not promoting driving kids into the ground just to win, I’m with you on that. But sports should be played like chess. You can’t finish the game if someone doesn’t lose…

      • tgthree - Apr 8, 2011 at 2:29 AM

        mf44srq, I have to ask why a sandbox is an appropriate pastime for a 4-year-old, while soccer is not. It turns out that a lot of kids enjoy chasing a soccer ball around like a drunken kitten, so why should they be barred from doing so just because soccer is also often played with a scoreboard? I’m sure there are some professional sand castle builders in the world who happen to think sandboxes are just as much competitive arenas as soccer fields. Is it that the game of soccer is sacred and shouldn’t be played at all unless there will be a winner and a loser? What is the difference between playing in the sand and playing soccer?

        A further question: “They only feel as bad about losing as you make them feel,” you write. I suppose I can agree with that, because kids don’t necessarily know better. But here’s my question: if we stop associating bad feelings with losing, won’t kids grow up to be indifferent about whether they win or lose, once it starts to matter? Wouldn’t it be better to be able to make judgment calls about when something is important enough to keep score (i.e., you should feel somewhat bad/disappointed when you lose) versus when something is not that important (i.e., you want a venue for your child to just run around and blow off some steam, and if that happens to include dribbling a basketball for a while, so be it)? That way, kids can understand the REAL way the world works, where some things are important enough to compete over, and some things just aren’t.

      • mf44srq - Apr 8, 2011 at 7:51 AM

        tgthree: The difference between the sandbox and the soccer field for a 4 year old is this; parent expectations. Go to any 4 year old soccer game at the YMCA and you will see some knuckle head parent acting like it’s the world cup. When the parents are spending upwards to $70-$100 a season for toddler sports, you’re going to get some goofy people. My first 2 kids played soccer at 4 years old and while they enjoyed chasing the ball around for 30 minutes, we could have done the exact same thing at the playground, without a time limit, without an expensive uniform, and without some idiot on the sideline yelling “Get the ball, drive it home!”… My next 2 kids did not play anything at 4 years old and the only differences were the increased money in my wallet and the lowering of my stress level from not wanting to choke dipshit parents. If you want kids to play soccer at 4 years old, the rule should be this. 1 – Parents in the other room behind glass.

        Kids should feel bad about losing and should try to avoid that feeling. Parents can make it one of two things; 1, learn from it and prepare to avoid it next time, or 2, make them feel like they’re a failure and berate them to do better. Option 1 develops character and solid citizens, while option 2 develops clock tower snipers who yell “It’s not my fault”

      • tgthree - Apr 8, 2011 at 11:55 AM

        mf44srq, the distinction you make between the sandbox and the soccer field is valid, but pretty irrelevant to the concept that any time anyone does something that could remotely be construed as competitive, they must keep score. When you mentioned before that soccer wasn’t an appropriate activity for 4-year-olds, the implication (given the prior discussion) was that there was a connection between the necessity of scorekeeping and the inappropriateness of soccer for 4-year-olds. The point about costs and knucklehead parents is entirely unrelated to the importance of scorekeeping, and actually has nothing to do with your child at all.

        You also missed my point about bad feelings after losing. I agree with you that losing ought to bring about bad feelings, and it’s up to parents to teach their children how to handle those feelings. But if EVERYTHING in life always ends in a win or a loss, kids will become desensitized to losing because even trivial things end up with a win/loss outcome. By making a distinction between what is important enough to keep score and determine a winner/loser and what is not, we can allow kids to not sweat the small/trivial stuff, identify what is important enough to justify competitiveness, and still teach them the lessons about how to handle winning and losing.

  7. mgflolox - Apr 7, 2011 at 6:46 PM

    Steering the conversation back to sports, I’ve been on both sides of blowout games and, frankly, I don’t think it’s much fun either way. High school games in all sports can get out of hand like this sometimes. I wouldn’t want to tell the kids on either side to stop competing, I would just hope that the winning coach got all his players who normally ride the bench into the game.

  8. macjacmccoy - Apr 7, 2011 at 10:46 PM

    Beliefs like that are 1 of the causes of the wussification of America. They didnt say lets not keep score in the 40s or everyones a winner. Thats whats wrong with this country anymore were more worried about everyone feeling happy and not getting there feelings hurt then we are about doing things right and being the best.

    Your parents ruined uses with there hippie generation nonsense and then your generation ruined this country. Your lack to be the best or the belief that it doesnt matter whos the best killed the growth of America. The country wont recover until we get that drive back. I hope seeing the collapse of the economy will make my generation realize the things your generation taught us and your way of doing things were wrong and we rediscover the drive to be best and the knowledge to know that anything else is unexceptable.

    One of the first and best ways to teach that to the next generation is sports.

  9. goforthanddie - Apr 8, 2011 at 1:08 AM

    Games like this shouldn’t be scheduled. Schools know their relative ability; if they don’t want smashed, don’t schedule the wrong teams. And if that isn’t an option, then the losing kids just have to deal with it. You can’t ask the winning kids to play down to their level. Just accept you’re going to lose, and have fun playing.

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