Patterico's Pontifications

11/1/2021

Poor Sportsmanship: Then and Now

Filed under: General — JVW @ 7:15 am



[guest post by JVW]

This past Friday night:

Inglewood Morningside football coach Brian Collins did not have kind words for the Inglewood High coaching staff on Saturday morning when discussing his team’s 106-0 loss to the Sentinels in a game that saw Inglewood quarterback Justyn Martin throw 13 touchdowns passes, including a two-point conversion pass with a 104-0 lead.

“It was a classless move,” said Collins, a first-year head coach at Morningside. “I told them, ‘Go play St. John Bosco and Mater Dei.’”

[. . . ]

Both schools are part of the Inglewood Unified School District. A statement released by the [California Interscholastic Federation] Southern Southern on Saturday “condemns, in the strongest terms, results such as these.”

The full statement reads: “The CIF Southern Section expects that all athletic contests are to be conducted under the strictest code of good sportsmanship. We expect coaches, players, officials, administrators and students to adhere to the Six Pillars of Character – Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship. A score of 106-0 does not represent these ideals. The CIF-SS condemns, in the strongest terms, results such as these. It is our expectation that the Inglewood administration will work towards putting in place an action plan so that an event such as this does not repeat itself.”

And a statement from the Inglewood School District:

Contrast that with a similar event from thirty years ago (bolded emphasis added by me):

Lisa Leslie of Inglewood Morningside High School scored 101 points in only 16 minutes Wednesday night against South Torrance, but any opportunity she had to break the national record of 105 points was eliminated when the basketball game was called at halftime because the opponents refused to play.

Leslie thought that she had tied Cheryl Miller’s eight-year-old scoring record when she left the Morningside Gym because officials had allowed Leslie to take four technical foul shots at the beginning of the second half, charging South Torrance with a delay-of-game penalty. Leslie made all four, but the free throws were nullified later by a Southern Section administrative ruling.

“I was kind of heartbroken that I didn’t break the record,” Leslie said. “I asked the (South Torrance) coach before they left the court if they would let me score three more baskets, and then he asked his team, and they said ‘No.’ ”

The confusion began when South Torrance Coach Gil Ramirez did not bring his team back on the court to begin the second half with his team trailing, 102-24, the official final score.

After beginning the game with only six players, South Torrance was forced to play the final minutes of the first half with four players after two fouled out.

[. . .]

Morningside Coach Frank Scott was disappointed with the Southern Section’s ruling nullifying the record but added: “We will accept their ruling, but I am not very happy with the South Torrance people for taking their team off the floor.”

The Southern Section will recommend disciplinary action against the South Torrance coach.

“Removing a team from the court is a serious violation of our (Southern Section) sportsmanship code of ethics,” [Southern Section associate commissioner Dean] Crowley said. “We will contact South Torrance and expect the principal to remove the coach from his duties for the remainder of the season, if reports are true.”

Pretty amazing, right? Say what you will about participation trophy culture and coddling of kids these days, but back in 1990 the villains in the story were the team who found themselves down by 78 points at the half to a vastly superior opponent who was determined to let one of the greatest players of all time run up the score on them and thus chose not to risk injury or embarrassment (note that they were also short-handed) by playing a meaningless second half. And, incredibly enough, the CIF-SS was focused on punishing the losing team for not completing the game, not the winning team for making a mockery of the contest (other stories about the game which I have read through the years indicate that Morningside put on a full-court press against South Torrance the entire half and Lisa Leslie essentially stood under the basket and was fed passes for easy layups after each Morningside steal). Yet back then, in those glorious days of parachute pants and Doc Martens, blowing out an overmatched opponent was apparently considered just part of the game.

A similar event happened at the end of September in Michigan, when a high school soccer player set a national record by scoring 16 goals in a 17-0 blowout of an opponent who is in the first year of playing the sport at the varsity level. As with the Morningside-South Torrance game thirty years ago, all of this scoring came in just one half. In this instance, the coach of the winning team quickly apologized for the lack of sportsmanship exhibited in the lopsided contest. In an interesting twist, the football team from the school with the losing soccer team had whupped the football team from the school with the winning soccer team two weeks earlier by a 48-7 tally, so perhaps there was an element of payback in the soccer rout.

Mostly at fault in all of these situations are, naturally, the adults. In a perfect world a kid would be content to take a seat after throwing for four touchdowns or scoring 30 points in one quarter and letting a teammate have some share of the glory, but kids are kids and we can’t always expect them to behave in a selfless and altruistic manner, especially in our look-at-me narcissistic culture heavily driven by social media. Also in a perfect world, a team being thrashed would have the pride to continue until the end of the game (as Morningside’s football team did), understanding that there are valuable lessons to be learned in crushing defeat just as their are in obnoxious victory. But at the end of the day it’s the adult coaches who should be imparting the proper spirit of sportsmanship on their impressionable charges, such as how to win and lose with grace.

– JVW

43 Responses to “Poor Sportsmanship: Then and Now”

  1. Happy Monday and happy November.

    JVW (07824f)

  2. Sportsmanship has taken a back seat with the professionalization and monetization of youth sports. I would bet good money that the highlights of that 106-0 thrashing will end up on several players’ brag sheets. Gotta look good for the colleges and show how all that training and camps that cost mom and dad big bucks paid off…

    Hoi Polloi (ade50d)

  3. Also in a perfect world, a team being thrashed would have the pride to continue until the end of the game (as Morningside’s football team did), understanding that there are valuable lessons to be learned in crushing defeat just as their are in obnoxious victory.

    I agree, but what it says to me is that they were so completely demoralized that they gave up. Pretty sad. I hope none of them quit the sport completely or didn’t come back next year because of that. That happens when someone turns a clear victory into utter humiliation in a kids game.

    Coaches running up the score in school sports are screwing up badly. Once it’s clear that your starting line can completely dominate the other team you let the 2nd string get more time or you try new plays that aren’t nailed down yet. Just terrible couching.

    I get that the one girl wanted to set a record, but dominating a team that can’t compete isn’t really a noteworthy accomplishment.

    Time123 (9f42ee)

  4. Great post and comments. Win-Win here. Not so much for youth sports. Sports like these aren’t preparing kids to be mature adults.

    DRJ (03cb91)

  5. The national broadcasting of high school basketball and football games, along with national rankings of players, leads to situations like the above and this.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  6. High school sports should be an extension of PE (gym to you old people). To develop a healthy body along with a healthy mind. Of course there should be competition, it cannot be avoided in high-energy young people, but the kind of competition that occurs naturally in those same high-energy young people develop, to test and grow their bodies according to their own personal limits and inclinations.

    nk (1d9030)

  7. Treating kids as professionals and leagues and schools recruiting these children has let to this mindset. It doesn’t help that sports sites and social media promote bad sportsmanship as well. Look how they covered Kaepernick versus how they covered Tebow.

    NJRob (eb56c3)

  8. Joe Montana’s lack of sportsmanship in this 1989 game against the Rams was such that he failed to concede defeat, down 17 points late in the 4th quarter, and had the temerity to win the game!

    And he never apologized to the millions of Monday Night Football viewers in Los Angeles who had to watch this travesty.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  9. I get that the one girl wanted to set a record, but dominating a team that can’t compete isn’t really a noteworthy accomplishment.

    The fact that she scored all but one of her team’s points makes it clear that it wasn’t the teams that were outmatched, but mostly just one player.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  10. And we won’t even talk about the 2004 Boston Red Sox and their refusal to lie down after going 0-3 in the ALCS.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  11. Kevin,

    @9, or the team was working together to help her set the record.

    @10 @8 I don’t think it’s relevant to compare professional sports to K-12 in this situation.

    Time123 (9f42ee)

  12. Time123 (9f42ee) — 11/1/2021 @ 9:53 am

    I would also include @7.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  13. @12,I think it’s more that NJRob has a hard time viewing things other then as part of the culture war. I don’t really see that this fits into that framework. I’ve coached youth sports. It wasn’t lib/con thing. It was ‘normal people don’t want their youth team to humiliate the opponents but occasionally there are wierdos”

    Time123 (9f42ee)

  14. Sports sites are the ones that have turned it political. They want to write about politics. Don’t blame me for acknowledging that fact.

    ESPN and CBS sports both had write ups on this kid being the top recruit and blowing out the other team by more than 100 points.

    This indoctrination is happening because God has been removed from the public sphere. The bonds that hold society together have been destroyed, intentionally.

    NJRob (eb56c3)

  15. Time, I was being facetious. I was watching that 49er-Ram game in stunned disbelief. IIRC, the 3 49er touchdowns were in the last 3 or 4 minutes.

    But also, I’m pointing out that sometimes a team getting drubbed turns it around.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  16. Kevin, sorry i read you too literally. Teams can turn it around, but when (for instance) one team has 3 strings made up for mostly seniors who’ve been playing for years with 1 or more high level players and the other has 1 and a half strings and with all younger players and you run up the score you’re more likely to get kids who give up then ones who dig deep.

    From my coaching experience kids really turn it on if they think its hard but possible. When it’s looks impossible (50 – 0 at the half) you see a lot of hustle drain out of them.

    Most of my experience is in wrestling where there’s a mercy rule (a 15 point lead) so that you can’t just beat up and humiliate a weaker kid for 6 minutes. Even with that you’ll occasionally get kids that show boat. Doesn’t usually seem to have a positive outcome.

    Time123 (9f42ee)

  17. But also, I’m pointing out that sometimes a team getting drubbed turns it around.

    On the professional level, sure. But it is rare — though not entirely unheard of — on the high school level, where the disparity in talent between teams is often so glaringly obvious.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  18. The best thing is that Justyn Martin has committed to UCLA. All sins are forgiven! (Of course it is not his fault-the coaches are to blame).

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  19. It’s not just pro sports. In 1974, down 24-0 near the end of the first half, USC turned it around and scored 55 unanswered points to win the game 55-24

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cE6ZG8rvpKE

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  20. Doing this at a high school in Inglewood could get you more than complaints, too.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  21. It’s not just pro sports. In 1974, down 24-0 near the end of the first half, USC turned it around and scored 55 unanswered points to win the game 55-24.

    Down 24 points in college is nothing and is a lot different than down 106 in high school. Apples and oranges.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  22. @17 oh yeah. In wrestling it’s not uncommon to have a freshman or sophomore compete at varsity just because there isn’t anyone else at that weight. Happens more often at lower weight classes and heavyweight (275#) There just aren’t as many kids below 112 or over 190# who want to wrestle.

    A senior who weighs over 250# wrestling a freshman / sophomore that weighs about 200# usually ends with a first round pin.
    But it doesn’t have to. If the senior wanted they could set all sorts of records for take downs, throws, or what have you and pin the other kid when they felt like it.

    Time123 (9f42ee)

  23. Some scores are a little closer, nice rally.

    “Vax mandate politics shifting, per NBC poll:

    “Do you strongly favor, somewhat favor, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose requiring that everyone who is now eligible must get a COVID-19 vaccine?”

    Favor 47% (34% strongly)
    Oppose 50% (41% strongly)

    https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/21096128-210292-nbc-news-october-poll-10-31-21-release

    All the lies and conflicting info from officials is taking a toll.

    Obudman (9ff85d)

  24. Catholic high schools also run up the score. At the beginning of the 2021 season:

    ……Mater Dei has outscored its first three opponents 152-17 while St. John Bosco has scored 197 points and given up 48 as neither club has trailed at any point.

    Source

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  25. Obudman infecting with an unrelated comment.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  26. But it doesn’t have to. If the senior wanted they could set all sorts of records for take downs, throws, or what have you and pin the other kid when they felt like it.

    I thought high school wrestling had a mercy rule where the match is ended once the score goes to something like 10-0 or 15-0.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  27. Catholic high schools also run up the score. At the beginning of the 2021 season:

    To be fair, Mater Dei generally scores lots of points when their starters are in the first and second quarters, then takes their foot off the pedal for the second half. In their first game of the season (a 45-3 win) they had eight different players with a rushing attempt, and seven different players caught a pass. In their second game (a 49-7 win) they scored 42 of those points in the first half and the team only threw 17 passes the entire game, with probably few or none of them coming after halftime. In their third game (a 58-7 win) they were only up by a 24-7 score at the half and only had a field goal in the second quarter, then erupted for 28 points in the third quarter. They also played three different QBs and only threw the ball 11 times.

    Looking at the box scores of their games, it does not appear at all that Mater Dei is trying to compile impressive statistics in order to set records or garner publicity. That makes their dominance way different than what Inglewood did to Morningside.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  28. @27, yes, that’s a very different thing and shows pretty decent sportsmanship on their part.

    @26, they do, and I was trying to illustrate why it’s needed.

    Time123 (9f42ee)

  29. The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) needs a Premier league in each section so the top end high schools compete among themselves and not patsy high schools.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  30. There’s a point in athletics when piling on becomes excessive….and the adults should understand that. On one hand Lisa Leslie should have the record….she’s a phenom. But is emphatically beating such an inferior…and depleted…opponent really something to be so proud of? I always shake my head when one of the college football elites…like Alabama or Georgia…are playing some 3rd-tier team who they beat by 50. What’s really the point? But there, someone like Saban…whose 3rd stringers are still pretty good…know what is appropriate….and not embarrass the other team. Still at times, until you play maybe teams don’t appreciate the sheer disparity in talent. Other times maybe bad blood developed from some previous slight, and it’s payback. Here it just seems like navel gazing….and just not putting yourself in the other guy’s shoes.

    The whole shooting-for-the-record meme made me go look up Wilt Chamberlain’s incredible 100-point game against the Knicks in 1962, where the final score was an astonishing 169-147 win for Philly. That never struck me as being unsportsmanlike. Wilt ended up averaging >50pts/game that year…a record that seems untouchable. But professional sports is different than amateurs. The adults failed the kids….play someone who has a shot at being competitive. Running up the score is now normalized, as is players dancing in front of their opponents. Different cultural norms. My dad was a hand-the-ball-to-the-official-in-the-end-zone kind of guy…I kind of miss that….

    AJ_Liberty (ec7f74)

  31. That never struck me as being unsportsmanlike.

    Given the differential was 22 points, it only reflects on the lack of defense.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  32. Running up the score is now normalized, as is players dancing in front of their opponents.

    The club i helped coach would deduct team points for this, just as the would for the losing wrestler throwing a tantrum.

    Win or Lose the expectation was that you shake hands, congratulate your opponent, and shake the opposing coach’s hand.

    Some anger/gloating still made it through, but it wasn’t part of what we coached.

    Time123 (9f42ee)

  33. poor sportsmanship might not be a new thing

    Georgia Tech 222 Cumberland 0

    JF (e1156d)

  34. The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) needs a Premier league in each section so the top end high schools compete among themselves and not patsy high schools.

    We already have it. The CIF-Southern Section schools are all ranted from 1 to 372, then playoffs divisions are created. The top 8 high school football programs in the CIF-SS — Mater Dei, Servite, St. John Bosco, Corona Centennial, Santa Margarita, Sierra Canyon, etc. — are in Division 1. The next 16 go to Division 2, then the 16 after that go to Division 3, and so on, down to Division 14. Inglewood is in Division 2, ranked #20 overall in the section, and opens their playoff run against #13 ranked St. Bonaventure. Morningside is rated #361 out of 372 ranked teams.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  35. Georgia Tech 222 Cumberland 0

    So the interesting thing about that pasting is that in the spring prior to that fall game, Cumberland had walloped GaTech in a baseball game by a 22-0 score. John Heisman, the GaTech coach for both baseball and football, believed that Cumberland had used non-student semi-pro baseball players in that game, and vowed to get revenge. Cumberland really didn’t field a football team that fall, but they had signed a contract to play GaTech and Heisman let the Cumberland administration know that if they didn’t show up he would demand the school pay the cancellation fee that they had agreed to when signing the contract. Thus, Cumberland pulled together a few eager students a couple of weeks before the game and had them practice together, but they were of course no match for Heisman’s well-drilled and veteran team. It’s said that GaTech made a point to get to exactly 222 points in order to remind Cumberland of the 22 runs they had scored the previous spring.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  36. Inglewood is in Division 2, ranked #20 overall in the section, and opens their playoff run against #13 ranked St. Bonaventure. Morningside is rated #361 out of 372 ranked teams.

    That’s my point. Inglewood should never play a school like Morningside at all.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  37. That’s my point. Inglewood should never play a school like Morningside at all.

    It’s screwy out here. They are both in the same school district and same conference, and the enrollment for the two schools isn’t substantially different (Inglewood High – 846 students, Morningside High – 678 students). Frankly, the two schools probably ought to be combined into one large high school, but that sort of stuff is threatening to teachers and administrators so it generally doesn’t happen. And in basketball, for instance, it’s often been Morningside (alma mater of Lisa Leslie, Byron Scott, and Elden Campbell) who has gotten the better of Inglewood (alma mater of Paul Pierce and Harold Miner), so not all of the sports are so lopsided.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  38. Perhaps the split is also accommodative of gang rivalries, JVW…that was the big p and moan when Chicago Public Schools closed 50 schools in 2012; additionally the consolidation of 2 high schools was blamed for the horrific killing of derrion albert.

    It is weird to see the replica HS throw backs of Paul Pierce et Al being worn by youth today.

    urbanleftbehind (c2e573)

  39. Particularly in a sport like football, it is so, so stupid for a coaching staff to allow for a score to be run up like this. The risk of the losing team just making it their mission in life to injure the players on the winning team skyrockets. I’ve gotten beat up in brawls that happened because my team was up big and I had guys on my team running their mouths about it.

    Can you imagine being the parent of a high school kid who gets paralyzed on a cheap-shot play because his dipsh*t HS coach wanted to score 106 points instead of 99? Or 92? Or 85?

    Winning coach should be fired. Life isn’t a video game.

    Leviticus (c64c41)

  40. Winning coach should be fired.

    I’ve been kind of waiting around all day to see if there is any news about this from the school or the district. Surprised that there has not been. He’s a controversial coach: He got fired from his last coaching job because his team ended up having to forfeit games for bringing in out-of-district players without observing the proper transfer procedure and also playing some guys who were academically ineligible to play. One reason Inglewood has become so good this year is because — surprise, surprise — the coach has brought in seven transfer students who are starring for the team.

    At a very minimum he should be done coaching for the year, but my guess is that Inglewood will just suspend him for one game at the most.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  41. Running up the score ignores the tendency of players on both sides to get sloppy in the execution of basics like blocking and tackling. Under these conditions, the chance of a serious injury occuring goes up This is not only a problem with football, but with any sport that involves exertion and contact with the opponent. A close friend of mine was involved in a blowout when he was playing lacrosse at the junior varsity level. At the end of the third quarter, the coach of the team that was ahead spoke to the coach of the team that was losing and suggested that they end the game at that point because of the risk of injury. Common sense prevailed and that’s what happened. I don’t think it’s a bad example for young athletes when they see their coaches take actions that are meant to safeguard the health of the kids they coach.

    John B Boddie (9f8361)

  42. I’m a sore loser, and a big fan of emptying the bench.

    The story about the soccer player with 16 goals hit me.
    The fans get irritated and are much more likely to fight when this kind of nonsense gets going.

    steveg (e81d76)

  43. To me, it’s poor coaching, not poor sportsmanship. The coach sets the example, and he should’ve pulled starting QB (and probably the rest of the starters) in the 2nd quarter.

    Paul Montagu (5de684)


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