Wednesday, October 24, 2007


The thinking behind the horrific 50-point rule, or score management policy as some Bohemians call it, is beginning to infiltrate other sports.

Look for soccer to follow football's lead. I wouldn't be at all surprised if soccer coaches who dare go beyond a seven-goal cushion start getting banished to purgatory in the near future. I haven't seen one 8-0 game all season. They all seem to stop at six and seven.

The same arguments that make the football rule a travesty are relevant in soccer. Say the score is 8-0 with 15 minutes left in the match. A coach must tell his players to just knock the ball around and not to shoot on goal.

Why is it less embarassing for a player on the losing team to be a victim in a humiliating game of keepaway than to lose 13-0? The answer to that is clear. Administrators don't want to see 13-0 scores in the newspaper.

Swimming has been doing it for years. When a team has clinched a victory, it swims the remainder of the events as "exhibitions," which means competitors will swim to win but their scores won't be counted in the team score. A 95-81 score looks so much better than 135-40, but what is that approach telling people who have dedicated their lives to delivering the news? Simple, it is more important for the meet to appear to be close that it is to tell the readers the truth.

In all these cases, kids are being given the wrong message. They're being sheltered from a reality that is just around the corner in their lives. They need to know that when other teams work harder, big deficits happen. If they feel a sense of embarassment, they need to work harder, and influence their teammates to work harder, so that deficit will diminish.

Getting back to soccer, I notice that many of the matches involving the girls and boys teams from St. Paul are not being reported. Here I am trying to maintain standings and my list of scoring leaders and I can't find information on the St. Paul games anywhere.

Unfortunately, these teams have struggled mightily and there seems to be a conspiracy among coaches, parents and/or school administrators around the Northwest Conference to keep their winless records a secret. That, by the way, is why you don't see my accustomed list of scoring leaders anymore.

Back to the gridiron. If we have such an aversion to football games won by more than 50 points, just stop the darned game and send everybody home. Let's not tarnish the game itself as it was meant to be played. What kind of message are we sending to kids when we require them to run out of bounds, drop passes and miss tackles on purpose so the head coach doesn't get suspended?

What's next? Maybe every football team in the state should be mandated to go 5-5, with each making the postseason and all playoff games ending in ties. After all, we don't want to hurt anybody's feelings.

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