Contrary to popular belief, these annihilations don’t help the winning team learn competitiveness. I’ve seen that it only teaches them bad habits and arrogance. Also contrary to popular belief, winning and playing to your full potential are only part of what kids can learn through athletics. Sports are also an opportunity to develop attributes like sportsmanship, compassion, and encouragement.
I recall years ago a high school girls soccer team in Erie that was dominant and twice a year had to play a team in their league that couldn’t compete with them. So the coach of the excellent team proposed to the coach of the other team they play for a half then combine teams for the second half. That way all the girls learned sportsmanship and compassion, and the losing team was encouraged playing with (not against) more skilled players.
When coaches don’t show compassion to their opponent and run up the score, they can really damage the other kids. The 161-2 score could have caused a girl on the other team to quit the team to avoid another public humiliation. Or it could have caused someone to tell her she’s no good and should quit.
Sports mirrors life. When we are in a situation where our actions may humiliate someone, we should change our actions. When we have the opportunity to show someone compassion, we should show compassion.
Earlier this season, the Hiram women’s basketball team gave up a competitive advantage by moving its season opener up a few weeks and giving up a home game – and an uncontested layup to start the game – to show compassion to an ill opponent. (See story and video here.)
What was the final score of that game? It doesn’t matter. We need to use athletics to lift kids up, not humiliate them. Always.