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