Please don’t read my blog today, because it’s not fair to the other blogs

Ignore my post title.  In fact, I want you to read my blog today — and send your friends over too.  I want the big(ger) numbers to show me that my hard work is paying off, and that I’m creating something worthy.

Given my aggressive, competitive blogging attitude, thank goodness I’m not playing middle school basketball in Kentucky.  There, one team, despite its best efforts not to do so, trounced its opponent so soundly that it came under scrutiny for daring to achieve victory:

Pikeville (Ky.) is 17-1 on the season and beat an opponent 100-2 in a preseason tournament three weeks ago (highlights above). They were facing Kimper, a K-8 school in Kentucky, and ran them out of the gym. According to Scouts Focus, the head coach only left his starters in for 1:48 which was enough to build a 25-0 lead. The coach called off the press and had his backups play a zone, but they still led 70-0 at the half.

Pikeville then re-inserted the starters and tried to get Kimper to score, but the opponents were unable to make open threes and layups. Kimper didn’t score until the last second on a layup. Pikeville won the tournament, beating another middle school team 75-32 in the championship game.

One gets the feeling that those Pikeville 13-year-olds are damned good, and that they’re also good sportsmen who were willing to go along with their coach’s efforts to give the other team a fighting chance.  One also senses that the Kimper students were playing above their pay grade.  It happens.  I’ve been to lots of youth games where one team was manifestly better than the other.  At game’s end, the parents of the winners instruct their kids not too gloat, while the parents of the losers explain that life isn’t always fair — or that maybe it was fair that the better team won — and that the kids need to get used to it, move on, improve their game, etc.

One would think everyone at Pikeville would be pleased with the victory, but that wasn’t the case.  Rumors swirled about firings and season cancellations:

Johnson informed Scouts Focus that the superintendent and the school board have been rumored to be on the verge of canceling their season and disqualifying the team from playing in the much anticipated county championships. Pikeville will play Kimper again mid-December, where Johnson says he will not bring his 8th graders along. Johnson informed Scouts Focus that he will just use his 6th and 7th graders in the much anticipated and heavily one-sided rematch.

The school district denied the rumors, but acknowledged being concerned about and investigating the victory.

Very strange.  Even more strange to me is the reaction from Larry Brown Sports, which is my primary source for this story:

We’re happy to hear of the outcome given that blowouts in youth athletics can sometimes lead to firings. It also sounds like the coach handled the situation well, and that by not playing the eighth graders for their next game, he’s doing the right thing.

The link in the above quotation (“sometimes leads to firings”) indicates that the firing wasn’t because of coaching too well, but because there might have been cheating involved, so I’ll let that pass.  However, I do wonder whether it’s the “right thing” to sideline students because they were too good.  Is that really the lesson we want to send to America’s youth.  “Hey, Samuel!  Get down from there right now.  You’re too competent!”  “Marcia, you stop winning immediately!”

Once kids are no longer five or under, they can and should play sports to win.  Kids learn life rules on the playing field.  The gymnasium or field gives the kids a PhD in hard work, chance or ill fortune, team spirit, good winning and good losing, the rewards of victory, and the incentive of failure.  The one lesson they shouldn’t be learning out there is “You won, therefore you’re out!”

Hat tip:  America’s First Sergeant

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  • Caped Crusader

    When asked where the Battle of Waterloo was won, the Duke of Wellington replied; “On the playing fields of Eton and Harrow”.

  • suek

    You have to wonder – kids or the coach? I think if I were the supe or principal of the Kimper school, I’d want to have a sit down talk with the winning coach, the losing coach, and then maybe watch a couple of practices of both teams. It _could_ be that the winning team just happened to hit a freak combination of super kids. Or it _could_ be that the winning team has a terrific coach. Or it _could_ be that the losing team has a lousy coach…in which case, maybe a new coach is in order. Or pay some overtime so that the winning coach could coach the losing coach.

    In other words…somebody needs to find out the reason the contest wasn’t a contest. Since it sounds like people care about it…

  • Danny Lemieux

    I remember once, when my daughter was young (middle school), she was a superb soccer player. So, she signed onto the neighborhood league and her team proceeded to trounce the opposition…not by large margins, but convincingly enough. The parents of the other teams were upset and forced my daughter to be removed from her team (in which all her friends played) in order to play on the worst scoring team in the league (in which she didn’t know any of the girls). 

    My daughter quit and never played soccer again. 

  • Caped Crusader

    Parents do a great disservice in not allowing and teaching children to deal with rejection successfully as they grow up. It is the most important part of growing up in learning to “suck it up”, and keep on going and to find other good choices to spend your time and develop the skills needed for a life in which Frank Sinatra will not be singing in your ear all the time that–“Life is just a bowl of cherries”. I went to a high school that had won the most state championships in that era. Sixty three years later, I can still remember the sting of rejection felt when my name was not on the list posted on the locker room door after the cut for the varsity. As an alternative I played in a school league at the YMCA. Had I not done so, I would never have gotten to know Pat Boone who played for another team, and whose future wife was in my homeroom. I did get to play football and baseball, so it all turned out for the best as I was concerned.

  • lordsomber

    I shake my head whenever I hear someone say, “Failure is not an option.”
    Failure is always an option.

  • Don Quixote

    Of course, kids ” can and should play sports to win.”  But there was no question who was going to win here.  The question is whether the kids can and should play to humiliate.  It does sound like the winning coach was in a tough spot and handled it well.  I wonder if the kids might have been better served if the coaches had talked at halftime and agreed that the superior team would use the second half to teach the other team the skills of the game.  An experience of great embarrassment could have been turned into something positive.  And, adding to what suek said, perhaps the losing coach could have learned a few things from the winning coach. 

  • jj

    Or it could be, Sue, that those kids are just better than the other kids.  If we were all good enough to be making $20 million a year playing baseball, that’s what we’d all be doing.  We’re not.  We are in fact not all created equal.  Back in the late 1970s I could pick Ron Guidry up and snap him in half – he weighed about 92 pounds.  But he had the fast-twitch muscles, I don’t.  He could fire a split-finger fastball in at 95 mph – I couldn’t.  So George Steinbrenner paid him a dump-truck full of money every year, and paid me nothing.  That’s the way it goes.
    Any time anybody’s “concerned about, and investigating” a victory, you know you’re in the hands of liberals.  George Patton wouldn’t recognize the words as having come out of the mouth of an American.
    And I have to laugh – there are youth leagues and after-school YMCA type leagues where the kids play sports but no score is kept, so as not to harm the self-esteem or whatever of the losers.  You’re fooling yourselves, parents and adult coaches, etc..  Get the attention of one of the kids along the sideline and ask him – they know exactly what the score is; precisely whose on top, and the name and season statistics of every kid who’s a top athlete and routine scorer.  The only ignoramuses on the field are the parents and scorers, who are fooling only themselves – the kids know exactly what’s up with the (non-existent) scoreboard.

  • adam

    It troubles me most that this foolishness occurs in Kentucky.  

  • MacG

    Doesn’t Volleyball have a score where if it gets to 15-0 the game is over even though the full game score is to 21?  Why did not the losing team just concede if they were so humiliated?  Perhaps they were playing for the love of the game, the opportunity to to learn playing against a much better team and the points are just a detail.  I am sure the losing coach taught those kids to never, ever, ever give up and keep your head held high for persevering and bravely playing their best.  If he did not then I would hope someone bigger would take him to the woodshed.  I have seen lesser athletes glow to play against one of the superstars in their sport is it possible these kids felt the same?  
    When you outflank your opponent in a sporting event do you taunt or show meekness (power under control)?  The wining coach did several right things without outright saying to the other them you suck so bad we’re gonna play on our knees.  He is a good coach.
    Since we are soooooo focused on social injustice these days (like when one is focused on racism) we tend to see it everywhere, even when there is none.

  • suek

    >>Or it could be, Sue, that those kids are just better than the other kids.>>
    Sure, jj, it could be.  All they tell us is about this one game…and this one year.  It’s definitely one of those “more info…I need more info” situations.  We’re making the assumption that there was no cheating, and one team was way better than the other.  It could be a fluke.  My guess is that it has something to do with the coaching – but that isn’t necessarily true.  As you say – they might just have an excellent team.  If it’s an ongoing thing though, that becomes less probable – unless one of those schools is a 3000 student school, and the other is a 300 student school.  That would also be a factor, allowing a much greater discrimination based on talent.  But we don’t know that.  We’re all just guessing.
    You don’t have a problem with that now, do you?  It’s not like any of our conclusions actually make any difference…!

  • DL Sly

    As a freshman in high school, I was a starter on the varsity team.  We weren’t bad, but we also didn’t have a very deep talent pool to draw from in the area around my 200 student high school — not for the girls and especially not in the mid-70’s. 
    Anyhoo, the team that won our conference that year, however, was very good as they happened to have on their team Joni Huntley — then merely a stand-out high school athlete, later Olympic high jumper extraordinaire.  We were at their gym for our last game of the season, but they were going to the state tournament.  Their coach came over to our’s before the game and told him, “I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m going to play my starters the entire game, and I’m not going to hold them back.  They need the tune-up before the tournament this weekend.”  And play them he did.  It’s the only time I ever played on a team that gave up 100 pts.  Even with the forewarning, we were humiliated, but our coach wouldn’t let us quit.  And he let us know he expected to be sincere when we congratulated them afterward.  And, in true karmic fashion, we got our revenge two years later when we won the conference and went to state.  Our coach was a true sportsman, though, when we got ahead of them by 20 pts, he pulled the starters and let the second string play the rest of the game.

  • 11B40


    Like much else, my theory of sport is mostly a hand-me-down from my father. Reduced to its minimum, it goes “Play, Play Well, Win” and the order is important. The Play was learning the game and learning about yourself, your capabilities and limitations. The Play Well, which included the mostly forgotten “sportsmanship”, was about committing yourself to continuing improvement and solid performance. The Win included the “Universe of Limited Outcomes (pigs ain’t goin’ to fly) of win, lose, or draw.

    In a lot of ways, the Win is the least important aspect for sensible human beings. Yet, today, with adult domination and the commercialization of youth sports it is somewhere between the be-all an end-all and a résumé enhancer for opening future doors. When one looks at the goings on in high school sports including the involvement of sporting goods manufacturers, various kinds of handlers and agents, and college recruiters, I’m amazed that the system is more messed up than it is. And, then of course their are those stage mothers and fathers pushing their next generation forward for some reason or other.

    I played basketball in the Bronx of the ’60s for a very small Catholic high school (300 students). We used to win our division every year and then promptly lose in the first round of the playoffs. One of the teams we played twice a year was the prep school for the local Catholic seminary. We would beat them by 30 or 40 points every time we played and I never saw a lick of quit in any of them. They were real “sportsmen”.

    Similarly, in our local schoolyard, we would play unscored games, “runs” we called them, that would go on for and hour or two with players rotating in and out. There would be a good deal of tomfoolery and carrying on but those were the funnest times of all. If your just in it for the win, your not really in it at all.

  • Gringo

    Hearing Danny’s story and the lead story reminds me of a difference between kid’s sports today and those of my childhood. While there were organized sports supervised by adults  when I was a kid, the vast majority of the games I played had  no adult involvement. Good sportsmanship was enforced by playing with the same people every day. If you were a cheater or a dirty player, no one would want to play with you. As your opponent one day was your teammate the next day, fair play was advised.
    Because we chose different teams every day, the issue of one dominant player was finessed. Over the year, most people were on winning teams about as often as they were on losing teams.

  • Charles Martel

    Gringo, m oldest brother, now 69, began playing baseball when he was 4 or 5. To this day he is an excellent fast-pitch softball hitter and pitcher.
    In the early 50s, he and some friends began hanging out after school and on weekends to play baseball. They developed their teamwork and smoothed their rough edges by themselves, and developed a pretty good set of skills.
    Then the dads got involved. Then Little League. Then the local Mercury dealership. One Saturday, at a ceremony held on the baseball diamond at the local park, the El Sereno Mercuries were introduced to appreciative parents, siblings and neighbors. It was all very nice, but I clearly remember the look of bewilderment on the faces of my brother and his teammates. They knew that something over which they had no control had just arrived on their diamond, to the accompaniment of microphones, banners, and cheers, determined to wring all of the fun out of the game.

  • Caped Crusader

    Gringo And Charlrs Martel

    Someone asked the great NY Yankee Tommy Heinrich (Old Reliable) what was his greatest day in baseball, he replied….”the day I went 69 for 70 in a sandlot game”

  • jj

    If the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton, then I guess we’re doomed. 
    Sportsmanship is swell – but not helpful where the rubber meets the road, and may well be a large piece of what’s wrong with us.  I know when I listen to jackasses like Madeleine Albright expressing – in public, no less – the idea that it’s unfair that the US is the only superpower on the planet, which she did as secretary of state, I have to wonder where she keeps her brain – granted she has one.
    I side with guys like Patton, who probably would have said something along the lines of: “play well on your own time; around here we damned well win, and we do whatever’s needed to ensure that outcome, and we don’t worry about whether or not somebody gets humiliated as well as beaten.”  

  • Mike Devx

    Don Quixote says: I wonder if the kids might have been better served if the coaches had talked at halftime and agreed that the superior team would use the second half to teach the other team the skills of the game.

    How in the world would you do that, Don?  A game is played by rules.  There are referees, and fouls, and whistles.   Essentially: there are game rules.   I don’t see any way you could, in essence, “run a practice” during a game.  

    I think the only way to do that, is for the losing coach to forfeit the game, at the half.  
    Then they could all have agreed to simply hang around and have some fun.

    Wouldn’t it have been bad sportsmanship, low class, for the winning coach to approach the losing, and ask him if he wants to forfeit?  Seems to me it was up to the losing coach to initiate that conversation. 

  • Ymarsakar

    From each according to their ability, to each according to their need. Some teams need help, it seems.

  • Ymarsakar

    This is just another way to keep the slaves in line. If you can’t tax the peons for all their worth, you just have to make them do the minimum work of generating societal equality. When true equality comes, everyone’s taxes will be just and fair and equal, and there won’t be any conflict. Until such a state is arrived at, the Left believes they will have to strip free will away, temporarily, for the good of the Cause.