The recent scenarios that played out in college football between Savannah State and the University of Miami, along with Florida International and the University of Louisville has The Football Educator “frothing at the mouth”. Two college games purportedly changed the rules to accommodate the “feelings” of the losing team on the lopsided end of a 70+ point blowout in both instances. Peter Berkes of SBNation.com reported;
“The last time there was a running clock in a major college football game, it was when Florida State beat Savannah State 55-0 in 2012. The last time there was a running clock in a game between FBS teams was Oklahoma’s 77-0 humiliation of Texas A&M in 2003, with 1988 Kansas’ 56-7 loss against Auburn the last we know of before that.”
Those of you that know me well are probably not surprised by my “conservative reaction” to what some might try to call a “progressive approach” to dealing with losing or an impending loss. For the majority of those that participate in sports (at any level) the life’s lessons taken away from athletic competition are all that’s there; no multi-million dollar signing bonuses, no mega-deal endorsements, no fawning media wanting to know “How’d it feel to put on your cleats today?”
Sports, as part of the history of American culture, have played as significant role in our ability as a nation to sustain through and overcome adversity. The competitive drive and the “will to win” woven into our societal fabric helped make this nation a world force on a number of fronts; economic, social, military, and spiritual.
General George S. Patton addressed the Third Army on June 5, 1944, the eve of “D-Day” with the following;
“When you, here, everyone of you, were kids, you all admired the champion marble player, the fastest runner, the toughest boxer, the big league ball players, and the All-American football players. Americans love a winner. Americans will not tolerate a loser.
Americans despise cowards.
Americans play to win all of the time. I wouldn’t give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That’s why Americans have never lost nor will ever lose a war; for the very idea of losing is hateful to an American.”
I’m not totally convinced that’s the case in this country anymore. Yet I’m also not convinced that the majority of Americans don’t still “love a winner” but ARE tolerating the “losers”.
As I hear stories like this I can only surmise that it’s not the players asking for “mercy” but the parents, coaches, and leaders that are embarrassed or afraid of the judgment, criticism, blame, and shame they heap upon themselves. That’s their problem and they need their own therapy to deal with that. If kids’ “feelings are hurt” from losing, then they haven’t been taught very well from coaches or parents.
Losing, and everything that goes with it, is part of LIFE. The great lesson learned from football is how to deal with, overcome, and conquer it. Leave the game alone.
The Football Educator
Usually, when a mercy rule becomes a bone of contention it’s because the policy isn’t instituted soon enough, until after a game is already far out of reach. Yet in one Northern California community the opposite is unfolding, with parents furious about a new rule that they feel is cheating their children and coaches of football and money wasted on fines.
As reported by Sacramento NBC affiliate KCRA, the Northern California Federation Youth Football League (NCFYFL) instituted stiff new penalties for any teams that beat opponents by 35 points or more. Specifically, those teams will be fined $200 and their coaches will be suspended from all league activities for two weeks. The penalty is a drastic change for the league of 7-13 year-olds, which previously issued teams with a warning following such blowouts and required a written description that detailed what the victorious team had done to try and keep scores low.
Similar penalties are occasionally installed by other youth leagues, but they usually don’t kick in until the disparity in score between the teams is almost twice as much as the 35 points being used by the NCFYFL.
With the new, harsher penalties, some players have begun insisting that their development is being hurt. One team has stopped attempting any field goals, leaving kicker James McHugh unable to attempt any scoring kicks except points after touchdowns. That’s a problem for a 13-year-old who hopes to serve as a high school placekicker in fall 2014.
McHugh’s mother, Kelly McHugh, told KCRA that players on her son’s team are afraid to score once they get a lead for fear that their coaches will be penalized and the team won’t be able to play the following week.
“Now they are afraid their coaches are going to get suspended and they are not going to have a coach to come out here and play football,” McHugh told KCRA.
Naturally, the controversial issue has advocates on both sides, with NCFYFL Deputy Commissioner Robert Rochin claiming the rule is a pro-active attempt to keep more kids interested in the sport while teaching others how to be good sports.
“We lose a lot of football players because their teams lose so badly,” Rochin told KCRA. “If they are constantly getting beat, who wants to play anymore? We lose kids all season long because of that.
“It’s not hurting the kids, it’s teaching them compassion for the other team. It’s teaching them sportsmanship.”
Are you kidding me? The Football Educator is curious if Mr. Rochin ever actually played the game himself?