A few weeks ago, I saw an article in the paper where the score of a girl’s high school basketball game was 92–4.
You do not usually see scores like that, but what caught my eye was that the coach of the winning team was suspended for unsportsmanlike behavior. Did the coach cheat in some way…the answer is no. He did not exhibit any unsportsmanlike conduct. He just had a superior team.
The league president asked what the impact on the student athletes were to lose by such a wide margin. The decision to suspend the coach was made by his own school. The president of Sacred Heart High School, Sister Sheila O’Neill, stated that the blow out does not represent the school’s values.
It appears the coach is in the doghouse for winning the game. Nowhere in the article did it state what he should have done during the game under this set of circumstances. Should he have told his players to stop shooting baskets? Or maybe not be so accurate on those throws from the foul line?
I remember when my kids were little and we would play checkers or other games, and I would allow them to win. They loved it until they became old enough to know I was letting them win. Then at some point each kid would call me out and tell me to stop it. That is when you know they are becoming individuals and want the satisfaction of beating someone fairly.
There is nothing wrong in losing. It is how you lose that defines you. It is not good sportsmanship, in my book, if you cheat to win or if you cheat not to win. Isn’t that point shaving? The girls on the losing side of that game may have had a bad night, or the winning team an exceptionally good one. It doesn’t matter.
What happened to the old adage, “It is not whether you win or lose but how you play the game?” I think school athletics should teach good sportsmanship by encouraging the winners not to gloat and the losers not to sulk. Throwing the game to avoid a point spread that is too wide or punishing the coach whose team prevailed is most surely not the way.