You may have heard by now about the southern California girls basketball game where a team won 161 – 2. You may have also heard the coach for the winning team received a two-game suspension for the win. Well deserved, I say.
Before we continue, spare me the arguments that this is just a typical loss for a kid and we shouldn’t baby them. That’s not what this is about. I have no problem with kids playing sports, accepting winning and losing. This is about a coach who should know better and exercise not just control over his players, but self control as well. What happened here is the coach was playing Madden Football against an opponent whose controller wasn’t plugged into the game console…and played as though he knew nothing.
This is not about “teaching kids to be soft,” or whatever other BS argument I’ve heard. We’re not talking about a 30-point, 40-point or even 50-point loss. If we were, then a suspension would be an overreaction. This isn’t even about running up the score. It’s about a coach allowing and encouraging his team to beat the hell out of a severely outmatched opponent just because they can; using them as a punching bag to tune up for another fight another day.
Look at that scoreboard and tell me I’m wrong. 161 – 2. Do you know how Bloomington High scored their two points? Free throws. One in the first half and another in the second. Free throws. Do you know how Arroyo Valley scored their 161 points? They shot the ball 98 times. There are college teams that don’t shoot the ball 98 times per game. There are NBA teams that don’t shoot the ball 98 times per game.
The halftime score was 104 – 1. I can understand a team playing hard and playing at its peak in the first half, but a full-court press for the entire first half? Really? Now, you’re just preening, but for whose benefit? That’s the real question. What do your players glean from beating down a team that is nowhere near your caliber? Nothing.
The Arroyo coach likes to make himself feel better, saying he only played reserves in the second half. Well, pin a rose on you. But here’s my question, ‘coach’: why are your players getting whistled for fouls in the fourth quarter? You’re up by 150 and you’re opponent can’t hit free throws, much less a field goal. And you’ve got your players fouling? Why? At that point, everyone from the opposing team to the refs to the parents just wants to get out of the gym as quickly as possible. Don’t tell me you can’t tell your players, “don’t hack anyone, just play zone.” My only hope is there was a running clock in the second half.
My issue with this outcome has nothing to do with pride, emotion or even being better players. It’s about beating up on a weakling just because you can. Players at that age learn nothing about their abilities, the game of basketball or life when they kick an opponent repeatedly just because.
I’m a firm believer that it’s okay for kids to lose when playing sports. They get over it. They learn how to accept defeat and how to do better. They get over blowouts, too. Sometimes, you run into an opponent who’s just better than you. Try your best, but don’t give up.
The reason this coach is suspended is because, at some point, he needed to recognize no good could ever come from such a lopsided victory. I wouldn’t say this if it happened in the pros or in college sports, where the playing field is a bit more level. This coach should’ve handled his embarrassment of riches (comparatively speaking) better by knowing when to pull back…starting with the full-court press.